Under the cover of the midterms, CA-20’s Rep. Panetta supported the hateful Trump agenda and cast a vote for H.R. 6691, the Community Safety and Security Act, one of only 29 Democrats to do so. The bill was heavily opposed by the Democrats as whole, as 148 Democrats voted “Nay”. District 18’s Representative Anna Eshoo didn’t support the bill, but she didn’t vote “Nay” either.
Ostensibly meant to clarify the definition of violent crimes, like most Republican originated bills, the name of the bill is a misnomer. What the bill will actually do is overextend the definition of violent crime to include such nonviolent actions as “burglary” and, most egregiously, “fleeing”. As explained by Human Rights Watch, the bill is “unnecessary, overbroad, and could have substantial harmful effects”. These include:
- Undoing justice reform efforts at the state level – many states, such as California, have reformed their justice systems to reduce the sentences of nonviolent offenders, and reduce the prison overpopulation. This bill will undo this progress, no doubt to the applause of the private prison industry.
- Making even legal immigrants face deportation – According to the National Immigrant Justice Center, “the bill would also expand the already vast category of crimes that render even lawfully present immigrants subject to immigration detention and deportation.” In other words, the bill directly advances the Trump agenda.
As Congressman Panetta is normally supportive of Immigrants, including supporting immigration reform and getting a 4/4 score on his last Indivisible Report Card, Kim from SCI’s MoC Watchdog team contacted Matt Manning in Rep. Panetta’s D.C. office to ask for an explanation. Matt forwarded a response from Rep. Panetta. In part, the response stated that “enumerated offenses not intrinsically violent carry the inherent risk of violence, warranting their inclusion in the scope of the definition”. Rep. Panetta went on to say that he supported the bill because it would enhance victim safety, which he viewed as critical in light of his prosecutorial experience.
This sounds reasonable at first, but how can “fleeing”, as in fleeing from the police, reasonably carry the risk of violence? This bill will be used as a weapon against vulnerable populations, who will face the catch 22 of either enduring police brutality or running and being classified as violent offenders. The law will be used by Trump’s (anti) Justice Department to persecute even lawful immigrants, advancing their vision of a lily white, immigrant-free society. We do thank Matt and Rep. Panetta for responding to our inquiry, as Rep. Eshoo’s office still has not responded to Faye from the MoC Watchdogs to explain why she didn’t find the bill worthy of opposition.
Now, let’s keep an eye open for when the companion bill is debated in the Senate!