Rep. Ratcliffe introduces bill to crack down on illegal alien crime
WASHINGTON – Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) introduced legislation Tuesday to strengthen legal punishment for crimes committed by illegal aliens who’ve been previously convicted of unlawful reentry.
The Peter, Ellie, and Grayson Victims of Illegal Criminal Entry (VOICES) Act of 2018 (H.R. 5526) aims to stop criminal aliens from receiving lighter punishment for crimes committed while illegally in the United States by amending concurrent sentencing guidelines. It has 13 cosponsors, including five Texans.
The VOICES Act is named after the victims of a fatal car crash in Northeast Texas in March of 2016 that was caused by an illegal alien, Margarito Quintero Rosales, who was driving without a driver’s license after unlawfully reentering the United States.
The car crash caused by Rosales killed Peter Hacking, who was a lawful immigrant and a volunteer firefighter, along with his two children, 4-year-old Ellie and 22-month-old Grayson, on their way back to their home in Lavon, Texas on Highway 78. The victims were survived by Mr. Hacking’s wife, Courtney Hacking.
“My heart was broken when I learned about the devastating loss of Peter, Ellie and Grayson. This tragedy was caused by someone who was here illegally in the first place. And worse yet, our current laws allowed him to escape with what equated to no additional punishment on top of his existing sentences,” Ratcliffe said.
“I’m glad my colleagues are joining me in my fight to ensure that future tragedies like this will be properly deterred by stopping illegal criminal aliens from falling through the cracks of our criminal justice system. We owe the victims’ families nothing less.”
Rosales received a two-year state prison sentence for criminally negligent homicide, which will count toward his existing sentence for his crime of illegal reentry following a prior deportation.
The VOICES Act would address the loopholes in the U.S. Code that allowed Rosales to count his new sentence toward his existing sentence, which effectively allowed him to receive no additional punishment for causing the death of Mr. Hacking and his two children.
The bill accomplishes this by elevating unlawful presence in the United States to an aggravating factor for any federal criminal offense, and by ensuring that time served in a state facility won’t be allowed to count toward an existing prison sentence for an immigration crime.
Additionally, the VOICES Act allows prosecutors to consider crimes committed after unlawful reentry on the federal level, which seeks to further ensure that additional sentences at the state level will not be served in place of federal sentences.
The VOICES Act is cosponsored by Reps. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), Steve King (R-Iowa), Mark Walker (R-N.C.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), Brian Babin (R-Texas), Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.), Neal Dunn (R-Fla.), Steve Womack (R-Ark.), Jodey Arrington (R-Texas), Michael Burgess (R-Texas) and Todd Rokita (R-Ind.)