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Criminal charges proposed for undocumented immigrants entering Louisiana


(The Center Square) – Legislation proposing criminal charges for undocumented immigrants entering Louisiana has passed a committee in the House of Representatives.

The bill moving forward Wednesday from the Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice is similar to legislation in neighboring Texas. It passed the panel 7-4 and was opposed by the Southern Poverty Law Center and migrant groups.

Next would be a House floor vote.

The Senate, by 28-11 on April 9, has already passed Senate Bill 388 sponsored by Sen. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs. If it becomes law, the governor could set up a border compact with Texas.

The penalty for a first offense would be a maximum of six months in prison and any subsequent offenses could draw up to a year in prison.

“This bill addresses the crisis of illegal immigration we are seeing across the nation, but addresses it specifically for Louisiana,” Hodges said. “So all of us in this room know that it is no secret that our country is being overwhelmed with a growing invasion of more than 10 million, people who came here without verification or identity or permission.”

Hodges said her bill was necessary because the federal government was not enforcing border control policies.

“I urge you not to pass this favorably because the language used in this bill is alien, which is a dehumanization of human beings,” LSU student Jonathan Savoy said. “It is obviously agitprop, propaganda to stir up voters to support SB4 in Texas. Agitprop against immigrants perpetuates harmful stereotypes.”

The bill would require the U.S. Supreme Court to allow a Texas law which created the crime of illegal entry into Texas to go permanently into effect. The Texas law was allowed to stand by the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily pending arguments before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

Iowa has already passed similar legislation.

The Senate Committee on Transportation, Highways and Public Works shelved another immigration-related bill.

Senate Bill 279 sponsored by Sen. Michael Fesi, R-Houma, proposed allowing the impoundment of vehicles of noncitizens driving without insurance and required law enforcement to report their immigration status to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Custom Enforcement.

The committee deferred 4-3.

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