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New immigration bills target "sanctuary cities"

Undocumented immigrants in South Carolina who have been arrested for crimes could be subject to stricter immigration laws if Congress passes two new bills. The Stop Catch and Release Act and the Criminal Alien Deportation Act would make it easier for the Department of Homeland Security to deport foreign-born individuals who are facing criminal charges.

Republican legislators, including Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, are behind both of the immigration bills. Many of their fellow Republicans have called for stricter immigration laws following the death of a 32-year-old woman in San Francisco. On July 1, the woman was shot and killed by an undocumented immigrant who was facing deportation. The man had been released from a county jail in San Francisco after a criminal charge against him was dropped.

The Criminal Alien Deportation Act reportedly targets policies in places that are considered to be 'sanctuary cities." Before the shooting death occurred in San Francisco, authorities had released the shooter without notifying U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that he was being released. ICE had planned to deport the man, but the city's policy was to refrain from notifying federal authorities about an immigrant's release from custody. The Secretary of Homeland Security has commented that federal authorities should not be allowed to control the policies of state and local law enforcement.

Immigration policies can vary significantly in different jurisdictions. A foreign-born individual who is facing criminal charges may want to speak with an immigration attorney to learn what options are available. An attorney may be able to help the individual to be released from jail pending trial and avoid deportation.

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