Dick Durbin Shuts Down GOP Bill

As concerns regarding the risks associated with illegal immigration intensify among the public, the Biden administration is making concerted efforts to address its perceived vulnerabilities on border security. Regrettably for the White House, these endeavors face interference from within the Democratic Party itself. A prominent left-leaning senator has recently impeded a proposed legislation aimed at safeguarding Americans from individuals charged with violent crimes who are undocumented.

Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) put forth Senate Bill 285, dubbed Sarah’s Law, in January 2019. This legislative proposal was prompted by the tragic death of Sarah Root, a Nebraska resident, who was killed by a drunk, street-racing undocumented immigrant in January 2016. Sarah’s Law mandates that any undocumented individual charged with causing a fatality or serious injury in the United States must be held in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Eswin Meija, the 19-year-old Honduran national responsible for Root’s death, was released the month following the incident after posting a mere $5,000 bail. He promptly absconded and remains at large to this day. Despite garnering co-sponsorship from 25 other senators, Senator Ernst’s bill has yet to be scheduled for a vote.

Georgia nursing student Laken Riley was tragically killed on February 22 while on the campus of the University of Georgia in Athens. Jose Antonio Ibarra, a 26-year-old individual from Venezuela residing in the United States illegally, has been apprehended and accused of her murder. Ibarra’s encounters with law enforcement, both state and federal, have occurred on multiple occasions since unlawfully entering Texas in September 2022 and subsequently being released into the country.

Among his purported offenses is the injury of a child in New York last September. However, the local police in the sanctuary city released him before Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could issue a detainer. Following Riley’s tragic demise, the House approved the Laken Riley Act with a vote of 251 to 170; notably, 37 Democrats aligned with Republicans in its passage. This legislation closely resembles Senator Ernst’s Senate bill, necessitating the federal detention of illegal migrant offenders.

On March 6, Ernst submitted a unanimous consent request, urging a floor vote on Sarah’s Law. In a poignant address, she underscored to fellow senators that requiring the detention of undocumented individuals responsible for injury or death could have averted both Meija’s evasion and Riley’s tragic killing. She emphasized that the law solely mandates detention and exclusively pertains to those accused of the most severe offenses.

Regrettably, her plea encountered resistance from Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), who declined to permit a vote. Given that it was a unanimous consent request, Durbin’s opposition was sufficient to thwart it. Durbin argues that the bill could lead to the detention of domestic violence victims who face charges of causing harm or death, and could potentially deprive migrants of the due process rights granted to all.

This reasoning seems odd, given that undocumented immigrants lack the entitlement to evade detention. Nonetheless, Durbin’s actions have prevented Congress from enacting measures to forestall additional tragedies akin to the killing of Laken Riley.




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