DES MOINES, Iowa – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, introduced a bill on Wednesday that blocks sex offenders from immigrating to the United States, and deports those convicted of sexual offenses.
The “BE GONE” Act, or the Better Enforcement of Grievous Offenses by un-Naturalized Emigrants Act – that would make “sexual assault and aggravated sexual violence” a disqualifying act for those seeking to immigrate to the U.S.—such as those given the temporary status of “humanitarian parole.”
The bill also gives law enforcement the ability to deport those convicted of violent sex crimes or sexual assault and those trying to immigrate. Specifically, it would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 to include sexual assault and other forms of aggravated sexual violence as a disqualifying crime for foreign applicants for residence in the United States and deportable for non-citizen resident immigrants.
“There was no question that our immigration system right now, under the Biden administration, is strained to its limits, all by the crises they created. Properly betting and processing these individuals is a must,” Ernst said on a conference call with Iowa press on Wednesday.
“We have already seen extremely concerning issues and the Biden administration’s ability to carry out those vetting processes properly. Another key obstacle that we must address immediately is making sure that criminal sexual predators, who are seeking to take advantage of our strained immigration system to enter our country, are identified, stopped, and, if found here, expeditiously deported,” she stated.
“Right now, the current laws on the books don’t effectively target those who have been convicted of sexual assault and sexual violence. We desperately need to update these laws to make sure we block sexual predators from immigrating to the U.S.,” Ernst added.
She said the nation had seen sex trafficking, forced marriages, and female genital mutilation among those coming to the southern border.
“Immigrant women particularily has significantly increased vulnerability to recurring sexual assault. The bottom line is that predatory sexual violence cannot continue to go unchecked in our immigration system, we need to make a change,” Ernst argued.
The bill has eleven co-sponsors, including U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.
“Every State Is A Border State”
Ernst said the southern border crisis is a humanitarian crisis and the number of people coming into the U.S. illegally is “exploding.”
Customs and Border Protection reports over 208,000 people attempting to cross the border in August alone, representing a 318 percent increase during the time one year ago.
“This situation shows no signs of improving. By the end of the year, the U.S. is expected to see more than 2.3 million people attempt to illegally cross our southern border. Folks, these numbers are staggering. The men and women that make up our law enforcement on the southern border are overwhelmed. It is a dire situation. We have thousands of people pouring into our country, and the Biden administration is woefully unprepared to handle it,” Ernst said.
In light of Gov. Kim Reynolds visiting the southern border, Ernst argued that Iowans should be concerned about the border.
“This makes every state in our nation, a border state, these illegal immigrants, not only are they crossing into the country, untested for COVID, which makes it possible to transmit even more cases throughout the nation. But we also see those, as I mentioned before, are sexual offenders. They are trafficking human beings for sex purposes. They are trafficking drugs that come into the state of Iowa and disrupt our communities. They’re trafficking guns into the United States. So this is an issue that every community and every state should be concerned about,” she said.
Ernst said that governors need to “actively engage” the Biden Administration on this issue.
In an email following the press call, The Iowa Torch asked Ernst whether she supported Gov. Kim Reynolds’ decision to send Iowa law enforcement officers to the border.
She said she supported Reynolds’ decisions.
“With fentanyl seizures at the southern border reaching historic levels, and overdose deaths in the U.S. surging, it’s clear that the issues at the Southern Border impact Iowans here in the state, and that Biden’s failed border policies have made every state a border state,” Ernst told The Iowa Torch.