U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) today introduced a pair of amendments to the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S.744) that would serve to clarify that individuals convicted of certain criminal acts against our most vulnerable are inadmissible under the immigration reform bill.
"Nothing is more precious than American citizenship, and we must ensure that this legislation does not extend that privilege to those who would commit crimes against the most vulnerable among us," Portman said. "These very simple amendments would bring us one step closer to achieving that goal."
Portman's first amendment addresses criminals convicted of felony domestic violence, stalking, or child abuse and will help ensure that two individuals convicted of the same crime under the same circumstances would be treated in the same way under our nation's immigration laws. Under the current language, individuals convicted of these violent felonies would only be ineligible for admission in the event they "served at least 1 year" in prison. Portman's amendment would change this language to declare inadmissible anyone convicted of felony domestic violence, stalking, or child abuse.
As written, the current language puts the emphasis on the time served rather than the offense committed. Portman's amendment would take extraneous considerations that can alter the length of a prison sentence out of the picture, applying the same standard to all applicants for citizenship while ensuring that the spirit of the original language remains--preventing violent criminals from reaping the benefits of this legislation.
Portman's second amendment would remove discretionary authority to ensure that those who have been convicted of a crime against children are not eligible to become a citizen of this country. The amendment would exclude crimes against children involving moral turpitude -- things like child abuse, child neglect, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor through sexual acts -- from the discretionary authority of immigration judges and the Secretary of Homeland Security with respect to removal, deportation, or inadmissibility of an individual.