North Carolina’s Republican senators have joined Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and filed new legislation prohibiting people with gang ties from gaining immigration benefits after federal immigration officials admitted that, in 2013, they stopped the deportation of a known gang member who is now the suspect in the February slayings of four people in Charlotte, N.C.
Emmanuel Jesus Rangel-Hernandez was granted special immigration status two years ago despite being listed in a federal database as a gang member. At the time, Rangel-Hernandez was in removal proceedings that were stopped as result. Earlier this year, the 19-year-old was charged with four counts of first-degree murder in connection with a three-day shooting spree that included the death of one-time “America’s Next Top Model” contestant Mirjana Puhar.
The legislation introduced by Sens. Richard Burr, Thom Tillis, and Grassley intends to clarify that members of criminal gangs are not eligible for the administration’s deferred action program that is granted to young immigrants and instead should be placed in an expedited removal process, the Senators said in a statement. It also requires mandatory detention of known gang members who are arrested by the Department of Homeland Security.
On Tuesday, DHS secretary Jeh Johnson testified before Congress that Rangel-Hernandez never should have received deferred action and that he was reevaluating the review procedures to ensure similar cases don’t occur again.
Grassley said in a statement that the legislation is designed to improve public safety by blocking gang members from receiving immigration benefits and relief from removal.
“North Carolina is unfortunately all too familiar with the tragic consequences of the Obama administration’s failure to properly vet and subsequently deport known gang members who are in the country illegally,” Tillis said.
Added Burr: “The circumstances around this bill are incredibly sad – four are dead following this administration’s inability to enforce their own ill-conceived executive order. If the President can’t take steps to ensure that Americans are safe from criminal gang members, then Congress must take preventative action.”