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House Passes Bill to Reclassify Dozens of Offenses as 'Crimes of Violence'

Opponents say the bill, rushed to the floor without a hearing, would dangerously expand what's considered an "aggravated offense."

Album / Prisma/NewscomAlbum / Prisma/NewscomRepublicans in the House passed a bill this morning that would reclassify dozens of federal crimes as "crimes of violence," making them deportable offenses under immigration law. Criminal justice advocacy groups say the bill, rushed to the floor without a single hearing, is unnecessary, is overbroad, and will intensify the problem of overcriminalization.

The Community Safety and Security Act of 2018, H.R. 6691, passed the House by a largely party-line vote of 247–152. Among the crimes that it would make violent offenses are burglary, fleeing, and coercion through fraud.

"Groups on the right and the left are deeply concerned about the bad policy in this bill and the unfair process through which it came to the floor," Holly Harris, the executive director of the U.S. Justice Action Network, said in a statement to Reason. "At a time when we have bipartisan support for criminal justice reforms that will safely reduce incarceration and better prioritize public safety, passing a bill that does just the opposite makes no sense at all."

In April, the Supreme Court ruled in Sessions v. Dimaya that the definition of a "crime of violence" used for federal immigration law—conviction under which can lead to deportation proceedings—was unconstitutionally vague. House Republicans crafted the bill, they say, in response to the Supreme Court's recommendations in that case. But the criminal justice reform advocacy group FAMM warned that the bill "would label seemingly nonviolent offenses such as burglary of an unoccupied home and fleeing as violent offenses."

"The bill would also label as violent conspiracy to commit any of the listed offenses, even when no violent acts have occurred," the group notes in a press release.

The bill was also opposed by the House Liberty Caucus, which released a statement saying that the legislation "expands unconstitutional federal crimes and provides grossly disproportionate consequences for nonviolent offenses."

"Its effect is to widen the range of conduct prohibited by those unconstitutional laws, further undermining our system of federalism and eroding the Founders' design for a very limited federal criminal justice system," the statement continues.

Rep. Karen Handel (R-Ga.) claims the bill is urgently needed to keep, as its name suggests, communities safe from violent crime.

"We don't have the privilege to squabble over hypotheticals that have no bearing on the application of this law," Handel said on the House floor. "I can assure my colleagues this bill is not overly broad. It's not a dangerous overexpansion. Instead, it's a carefully crafted response to the Supreme Court's recommendations."

Democrats and criminal justice groups also objected to the speed at which the bill sailed to the House floor. It was introduced just a week ago and did not have a single hearing or markup prior to today's vote. The House Liberty Caucus calls the process "farcical."

In a tweet, Jason Pye, the vice president of legislative affairs at the libertarian-leaning group FreedomWorks, writes: "In my view, this bill is mostly politics. I agree that Dimaya requires a fix, but this bill has flaws that could have, and should have, been worked out in committee markup. It's shameful that this bill was handled this way."

Photo Credit: Album / Prisma/Newscom

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  • Tom Bombadil||

    I don't favor this kind of smarmy law making but I have no problem deporting burglars. Why does a crime need to be violent to provoke a deportation? Do I get to avoid punishment for burglary just because it didn't involve violence?

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Of course not. You too should be deported back to your native country. You're a US citizen? That just makes the deportation cheaper.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Well, how about deportation (of citizens or others) instead of incarceration?

  • Tom Bombadil||

    You gonna deport a US citizen to his country of origin?
    Let me 'splain it. Foreign visitors who burglar, Get the Fuck Out. And don't come back. Simple isn't it?

  • VOTE MILES||

    Do I get to avoid punishment for burglary just because it didn't involve violence?

    Tom thinks sophistry is a good look.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    The logic that justifies deporting a violent criminal is the same as that justifying deporting a burglar.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    And anybody who breaks into a house is taking the chance of it being occupied, so at least the potential for violence is baked in.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    True. Burglars get shot, often. Justifiably. That should tell you what the law thinks about the threat of violence inherent in a burglary.

  • ||

    Deportation is not used instead of punishment, it is used in addition to punishment.

    Criminal aliens are deported at the end of their sentences if they meet the criteria for it.

  • Hank Phillips||

    It doesn't. Many deportes are booted out over plant leaves. Another large number are kicked out over laws that define "drunk" driving. The laws "we" export cause swarms of refugees to flee hither. This is different from the laws the Soviet Union exported to the Warsaw Pact colonies. Those made everyone flee farther outwards.

  • Crazyotto||

    Yes DUI is a crime that should meet with deportation. Why is it necessary to keep these people here if they broke immigration laws first and then they were busted for driving drunk? what do they bring to the table except more cheap labor for meat packers.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Among the crimes that it would make violent offenses are burglary, fleeing, and coercion through fraud.

    I'll say this - at least these are actual crimes. If the left introduced this bill, violent crimes would include hate speech, global warming denial, and aggravated possession of a plastic straw.

  • Juice||

    Fleeing? Fleeing what?

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Fleeing an attempt by the police to arrest you.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Fleeing sanity?

  • flyfishnevada||

    I can see, I suppose, a reckless car chase that endangers bystanders and police a " violent act" but does this include simply running away or hiding? This all sounds like an excuse for the "law and order" Republicans to make it easier to deport more people for more things.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    As long as the "more things" are legitimately crimes, why should anybody mind? Unless you're a citizen, you're here on good behavior.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Or shoot them. Officially, nobody was ever shot by Democratic Communist German border guards. But still...

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    I think it means leaving flees on the bed, if you're a homeless person who is so encumbered.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    Not to mention autonomous cake-baking and feral hair-braiding.

  • VOTE MILES||

    Words are violence.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    "Biff!" "Pow! "Kersplat!"

  • VOTE MILES||

    Onomatopoeia is depraved violence.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Fleeing is violence! Those Jews fleeing nationalsocialism and those Berliners trying to sneak over the Wall... THEY were the violent ones, not the SS or Todes-schutzen. Now I understand why the Republicans want those Walls.

  • CE||

    How long until anti-ruling-party Internet comments are reclassified as violence?

  • Skyhawk||

    Don't forget the capital offense of using the wrong pronoun to refer to a tranny.

  • Ygrittesngravy||

    "Tranny" is an incredibly offensive way to refer to a shemale, Skyhawk.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    A man's gonna katooey what a man's gotta katooey.

  • Rigelsen||

    What's the converse of a shemale? 'Hefemale' doesn't quite have the same ring.

    As far as 'tranny' being offensive, why exactly is it an insult anyway? Why is it not: It's either descriptive or it's not?

  • Brett Bellmore||

    It's an insult because it's accurate.

  • ||

    Like, "your penis is small".

  • mpercy||

    When it comes to that, my preferred pronoun will be "His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular"

    And I will demand that it be used accurately each and every time.

    Well, I might drop the Idi Amin Dada and Uganda parts...

  • Earth Skeptic||

    That was my first, or rather second reaction. My first thought was "this is more imperial bullshit".

    I guess bullshit is all we get from here on out.

  • Hank Phillips||

    So with the Dems wielding 38% of the vote in the House, and a Real Estate Developer in the White House, how are those lifted CPUSA and Green Party platform planks on banning coal and oil, gas and fracking--and taxing us for atmospheric trace gases--how are those paying off for the Dems?

  • VOTE MILES||

    "I can assure my colleagues this bill is not overly broad. It's not a dangerous overexpansion."

    Phew. I was worried there for a moment.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Seriously, people are taking a stand on not deporting thieves because they were fortunate enough not to commit their crime when the property owners were not home. That is a hill the pro illegal immigration side is willing to die on?

  • Tom Bombadil||

    And besides, I think more than a few libertarians would classify burglary as an act of violence against another person. When you steal a person's shit, you cause them physical harm.

  • Cathy L||

    Haha you guys are nothing if not reliable.

  • VOTE MILES||

    Cathy thinks microagressions are violence.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    Let me ask you Cathy, if someone broke into your house and stole your shit, you wouldn't feel a bit violated? No sense of physical danger the next night quivering in your bed?

  • Cathy L||

    Are either of those things "physical harm"?

  • Tom Bombadil||

    Is PTSD?

  • Cathy L||

    Yes, go down this road. Anything that causes PTSD is a violent crime. Enjoy your free speech.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    Breaking into my home is assault. Taking my shit causes me physical harm. Fuck off.

  • bevis the lumberjack||

    You sound like one of the "words are violence" college kids. Is stepping on your lawn violence? TP'ing your yard?

    Violence is, well, violent. Breaking into an unoccupied house isn't violent.

    Not to mention all of the actual American citizens - you know, the people you folks say you care so much about - that are going to get caught up in this bullshit. More crimes defined as violent means more longer sentences for people that committed the violent act of hiding in a closet.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    You know what? Somebody "breaks" into my house, they're causing damage, and expense. I think of the money as little bits of my life, because I earned it by spending bits of my life doing something I wouldn't have otherwise done. If I didn't need the money, I'd be spending all my time on woodworking, gardening, and gourmet cooking.

    He who steals from me steals the seconds, hours, and days of my life, from a finite fund I can't refill.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    Hiding in a closet was changed from non-violent to violent crime? I didn't even know it was any kind of crime.

    Back on topic, I don't feel sorry for American burglars either.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    That was for Bevis.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Non-Americans entering the USA without permission is illegal. It doesnt matter where they hide.

  • bevis the lumberjack||

    "Back on topic, I don't feel sorry for American burglars either."

    So you're a big fan of overincarceration nation. Statist authoritarian thuggery is only bad when the other side does it. Got it.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Overincarceration?

    Burglars should be shot.

    If you are not at home to do that they should most definitely be jailed if caught. They have committed a crime against a person.

  • perlchpr||

    So you're a big fan of overincarceration nation. Statist authoritarian thuggery is only bad when the other side does it. Got it.

    So this is that "anarcho-tyranny" thing I've heard about.

    "YOU'RE A STATIST FOR OBJECTING TO THEFT!"

    Fuck off, slaver.

  • Crazyotto||

    As it has been said many times ... these people are here doing jobs most whites don't want to do, Like robbing other poor Mexicans, abusing spouses/ children and perpetrating pedophilia. This is face of the new libertarian party that support open borders, supporting criminal activity and taking money from Soros.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Yeah, that was my reaction on reading the actual text of the bill. I didn't see anything very unreasonable in there. Certainly I didn't see any conduct in there that I'd be uncomfortable deporting somebody over.

  • Rigelsen||

    Fleeing seems an odd one.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Well, it doesn't always imply violence, or even endangerment, but I'm still not upset about deporting somebody who flees the police, barring extenuating circumstances such as the cop just up and trying to kill you.

  • CE||

    Cop: He looked guilty. He was fleeing violently. I guess we'll never know, since my firearm discharged.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Wait till you feel illegal Emigration on your hide.

  • EscherEnigma||

    That is a hill the pro illegal immigration side is willing to die on?


    Probably not.

    It's a bad bill that opponents are opposing, but there's no real indication that anyone is going to stake their lives, or even their careers, on said opposition.

    Everything doesn't have to be "ride or die" ya know.

  • Grifhunter||

    People are missing the point that its not just immigrant deportations these re-classifications will impact. May states and possibly federal statutes prohibit gun ownership after committing a "crime of violence".

    Some goofy offense like fraud as coercion strips one of a civil right for life? (fraud as coercion: is that like when some dude tells a woman he loves her in order to sleep with her?)

  • CE||

    This.

  • WhatAboutBob||

    "Republicans in the House passed a bill this morning that would reclassify dozens of federal crimes as "crimes of violence," making them deportable offenses under immigration law."

    Just had to read the first sentence to know why Democrats are against the bill. That's part of their base and they don't want them deported.

  • mpercy||

    Just had to read the first four words to know why Democrats are against it.

  • chipper me timbers||

    The overcriminalization of america continues...

  • Rigelsen||

    This bill doesn't change what is criminalized. It tries to reestablish deportable criminal offenses, the previous definition just recently being overturned by the SCOTUS. But if the underlying offense wasn't already criminalized, it wouldn't be affected by this legislation.

    Still, has Congress ever done anything good in a hurry? That usually is a sure sign you're going to get some spectacularly bad legislation.

  • markm23||

    And it does this by further corrupting the language. Making burglary or fleeing the cops deportable offenses is one thing. Calling them "violent" is quite another.

  • sarcasmic||

    eroding the Founders' design for a very limited federal criminal justice system

    But, but, but... ILLEGALS!

  • Rigelsen||

    To be sure, this isn't an addition to federal criminal statutes. This just changes the definition of deportable offenses, or, form the perspective of the Congresscritters, tries to reestablish some definition on deportable offenses after the previous definition was overruled by the SCOTUS. Serious, yes. Should have been more deliberative, yes. But, not really a matter of the federal criminal justice system.

  • CE||

    Piracy, treason and counterfeiting were the only federal crimes, once upon a time.

  • MiloMinderbinder||

    This article could be written better.

    It's not clear to me that we are talking about federal crimes, which would be an overreach by Congress, or we are talking about redefining what state crimes are violent due to the ambiguity that the court struck down. The latter seems perfectly reasonable.

    But I expect the Open Borders Ideologues to make the case that it's immoral/unconstitutional/fattening to deport non-citizen burglars.

  • Cathy L||

    Why don't you try making the case that it's moral to amend the definition of "crime of violence" that is used in multiple federal laws to include nonviolent crimes just so you can deport noncitizen burglars without having to amend the law that stipulates they can be deported only for violent crimes?

  • Rigelsen||

    Where else is this definition of "crime of violence" used? All I can see so far is that it's used for deportation. Pointers appreciated if you have them.

  • Cathy L||

    I wasn't able to find that information during my earlier research, but the House Freedom Caucus statement refers to "dozens" of other federal statutes that would rely on this definition.

  • Hank Phillips||

    What about violent Thoughtcrime?

  • Mark22||

    I wasn't able to find that information during my earlier research, but the House Freedom Caucus statement refers to "dozens" of other federal statutes that would rely on this definition.

    Well, tell you what, hun, when you come up with a rational, specific argument and facts, we'll be happy to listen to it. Until then, you're just making a fool of yourself.

  • VOTE MILES||

    I'm sure Cathy would be happy to amend the definition of "violent crime" in ways that serve her ideological interests. The violence of "misgendering", for instance, is ripe for stiffer criminal penalties.

  • Midnightrider||

    Yes, why don't they just amend the law that stipulates that illegals can only be deported for violent crimes? If you are not here legally, GOODBYE!

  • CE||

    I think you got that backward. Congress can legislate federal crimes. It shouldn't be "redefining" any state level laws.

  • Skyhawk||

    According to both the SSA and the New York Times, 50-75% of criminal aliens commit identity theft
    and/or SS fraud. I hope that is covered in the bill.

  • Cathy L||

    It isn't.

  • Mark22||

    Hopefully, they'll get around to amending immigration law to make those deportable offenses as well.

  • Wise Old Fool||

    So now we ignore what "violence" mean and everything is "violence", now there is some 1984 level shit. Goddamn Strumpets just take it in every orifice and ask for more lmfao.

  • Cloudbuster||

    You know what isn't a power of Congress? Criminal law. ( except a few specific areas such as patent law, counterfeiting and piracy.)

  • Mickey Rat||

    The bill is defining what state and local crimes are cause for deportations under immigration law, not making criminal law.

  • Cloudbuster||

    That's not what the article says:

    Republicans in the House passed a bill this morning that would reclassify dozens of federal crimes as "crimes of violence,"

  • Cloudbuster||

    Wouldn't it be simpler and more honest to amend immigration law to allow people to be deported for non-violent crimes than to torture the definition of violence?

  • Brett Bellmore||

    It would, but this is being done by Congress. Simpler and more honest wasn't in the cards.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Open border want open borders no matter what.

    Trump was elected to enforce immigration law. Secure border people will win.

  • Hank Phillips||

    The platforms tell me Trump was elected to keep electric power generation safe and legal. That was the only substantive and deliverable difference on a clear issue among the two looter parties' promises.

  • perlchpr||

    The platforms tell me Trump was elected to keep electric power generation safe and legal.

    As someone who enjoys living in the modern era, I'm pretty OK with that.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Maga

  • Wise Old Fool||

    I don't agree with that but that makes a lot more fucking sense that what they're trying to do lol. This makes babe George Orwell cry up in heaven guys. Jesus Christ. Strumpets love this Nazi shit.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Only Nazis want to control their borders and deport criminals?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Saw this coming. The open border people fighting deportations of illegals based on technicalities about how serious of a criminal they are, means that Congress would respond with changing the language of what a serious crime is.

    Its both of your faults. Congress for making less serious crimes defined as more serious and the open border people for refusing to admit that the US government has the Constitutional and legal authority to deport illegals for any reason. The illegals should get a quick hearing to make sure that they are in fact not Americans and then deport them.

  • GoatOnABoat||

    Fleeing? Am I the only one who read that and thought of Monty Python and the killer rabbit? Run away! Run away!

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    House should be stripping criminal offenses from the USC, not adding more.
    Criminality is FTMP, a State matter, and should be left there.

  • Wise Old Fool||

    Lol "fleeing" is a violent offence. Holy shit now there is some police state logic. "You were being violent by trying to run from me and not get your head beat in. Now it's time to get your head beat in because you were being 'violent'. " . Republicans are off their fucking rockers. The is a last cough from a Congress that is getting ready to be a solid blue one.

  • Rob Misek||

    Fleeing includes speeding a 3 ton vehicle through traffic and pedestrians which is an inherently violent action.

    There is violence in breaking into a home or business where people "may" be inside. I would suggest that the burglars would require a notarized affidavit that the premises was vacant before it could be considered "non-violent".

  • EscherEnigma||

    Fleeing includes speeding a 3 ton vehicle through traffic and pedestrians which is an inherently violent action.


    No, that would be assault with a deadly weapon.

    Seriously, in any cases that are actually violent, there's another charge there that addresses said violence. There's no need to redefine other offenses that aren't necessarily violent as "violent".

  • Rob Misek||

    Seriously though,

    I want people who put lives at risk charged with a violent crime.

  • Talonstrike||

    "At a time when we have bipartisan support for criminal justice reforms that will safely reduce incarceration and better prioritize public safety, passing a bill that does just the opposite makes no sense at all."

    It makes perfect sense when you factor in that for-profit prisons think they aren't making enough money and are trying to maximize their profits. Gotta keep them cells filled up!!

  • VinniUSMC||

    Wait, are they "reclassify[ing] dozens of federal crimes as 'crimes of violence'", or are they fixing the definition of violent crime within federal immigration law?

    This is why people don't trust news outlets.

  • rano del||

  • vek||

    The only problem I have with this is that it will apply to US citizens too. Some of it, like burglary seem reasonable. That IS a potentially violent act inherently. Fleeing... Probably not so much.

    It would have been better if they just amended immigration law to allow people to be deported for an expanded list of offenses, whether violent or not... Not that 100% of illegals shouldn't just be deported PERIOD in the first place.

  • AloaRa||

    Ow, that good news for me. www.modern-de.com

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