Immigration lawyer weighs in on proposed Missouri illegal re-entry bill

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JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri lawmakers are trying to change immigration laws throughout the state. 

The Emerging Issues Committee within the Missouri House was expected to meet Monday night for a hearing of a Senate bill regarding the illegal re-entry of immigrants in the state of Missouri.

SB 612 proposes any illegal immigrant who has re-entered the state of Missouri and commits a felony or assaults someone could be charged with a Class C felony.

Class C felonies can result in a sentence between 3 and 10 years in prison, according to Missouri law.

Under the bill, if an illegal immigrant commits a crime in Missouri and flees to another state, the person who houses the illegal immigrant would be required to give them up to federal authorities.

Columbia lawyer Stephen Blower said he thinks the bill counteracts federal law. "If a person has been deported, and illegally re-enters, then commits a domestic assault, could this be enforceable if the person is outside of Missouri?"

Blower specializes in immigration law.

"I would rather be proactive then something, you know, happen and we take up the issue. If someone's illegal we really don't want them. Your kids don't want them, we don't want them," Sen. Mike Cunningham, R-Rogersville, said in January. Cunningham is the bill's sponsor.

"We don't want the druggies, we don't want people who have convicted felonies whether it be murder, rape, armed robbery, whatever," he said. "That's not the people we want in the state of Missouri."

"It seems to be a great waste of the legislators' time," Blower said. "That would mean the prosecutor would have to prove that the person has already been deported."

[Editor's note: This story has been updated with facts about Missouri law.]