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By: Elias J. Atienza
Representative Justin Amash (R-MI) baffled many Republicans and others when he voted against HR3004, known as Kate’s Law, an immigration bill passed by the House that toughens up punishments against illegal immigrants. As noted by Breitbart, a pro-Trump website, Amash was the only Republican to vote against the law, while 24 Democrats voted for it. The bill passed 257-167.
Amash voted against the bill because it “stems from a provision that denies Fifth Amendment due process to certain criminal defendants.”
“As its text makes clear, the Fifth Amendment applies explicitly to all “person[s]” within the United States, including suspected illegal aliens who are arrested, charged, and tried within the United States. The Constitution uses the word “citizen” in other provisions whenever that word is intended. This interpretation of the Constitution’s applicability is shared by the Supreme Court, including among the conservative justices.”
Furthermore, he writes that the bill “unconstitutionally eliminates the opportunity for those charged with illegal re-entry to challenge the validity of a removal order” which, in his opinion, violates the Fifth Amendment.
If a defendant never has a meaningful opportunity to have a judge review her removal order and, under this bill, she is prohibited from challenging her removal order during the criminal proceedings for illegal re-entry, then she could be convicted of a felony without ever having had the chance to challenge whether the order to remove her—which is an element of the crime!—was legally valid. As the Supreme Court held in United States v. Mendoza-Lopez, 481 U.S. 828 (1987), this would be a violation of the defendant’s due process rights.
The Hill summarized the bill:
“The bill includes a provision that ensures immigrants in the U.S. illegally who are charged with a serious crime are detained during their deportation proceedings. It also requires that localities comply with Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests to detain suspects for extra time, since some jurisdictions currently don’t always cooperate. The extended detentions allow immigration enforcement authorities to pick up suspected criminal immigrants from local jails.”
Many people in the comments section opposed him, with one commentator saying that he should have voted for the bill and let the Supreme Court deal with the constitutionality of it. Amash hit back, writing,”First, that’s not how our oath of office or our system of government works. Second, the Supreme Court already has held that this is unconstitutional. There’s an opinion cited in my explanation that is directly on point.”
Amash also voted against the HR3003, which was the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, which he claims violates several amendments of the Constitution including the 1st, 5th, and 11th. He has voted for defunding sanctuary cities in the past.