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house Bill H.R. 384

Kate's Law: Do People Who Repeatedly Enter the Country Illegally Need Longer Prison Sentences?

Argument in favor

Longer prison sentences will help deter people who’ve been deported or barred from entering the U.S. from trying to illegally re-enter the country, and keep criminals off the streets.

Argument opposed

Increasing prison terms for people who illegally re-enter the country will only keep U.S. prisons full and cost taxpayers more money to keep repeat offenders incarcerated.

bill Progress

  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedJanuary 9th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 384?

This bill — known as Kate's Law — would create enhanced criminal sentences for re-entering the country illegally after an unauthorized immigrant re-enters or is found in the U.S. while they're the subject of an outstanding order of exclusion, deportation, or removal. It also establishes maximum penalties for unauthorized immigrants who'd been convicted of various crimes before being deported, or have repeatedly entered the country illegally.

An unauthorized immigrant who reenters the country after being removed without a criminal record could receive up to two years in prison and a fine. The following are the sentences and fines that would be imposed by this bill as punishment for reentry based on the individual's criminal history:

  • For three or more misdemeanors or a felony, the unauthorized immigrant would be imprisoned for up to 10 years;
  • For a felony conviction that carried a sentence of at least 30 months, reentry would be punished by up to 15 years imprisonment;
  • For a felony conviction that carried a sentence of at least 60 months, reentry would be punished by up to 20 years imprisonment;
  • For murder, rape, kidnapping, or a felony related to slavery or terrorism, the unauthorized immigrant's reentry would be punished by up to 25 years imprisonment.

If an unauthorized immigrant has been excluded, deported, or removed from the U.S. three or more times, they could be punished by up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine.

This legislation was named after Kate Steinle, a woman who was murdered in a sanctuary city by an unauthorized immigrant who had been deported five times and had seven felony convictions.


People who illegally re-enter the U.S. after being deported or barred from entry, their families, U.S. immigration and law enforcement agencies, and the Dept. of Justice.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 384

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Lead cosponsor Rep. Steve King (R-IA) reintroduced this bill along with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) to strengthen enforcement of laws against illegal immigration:

"Kate's Law amends federal law to impose a sentencing enhancement for any illegal reentry offense... [It's named] in honor of the memory of Kate Steinle, a 32 year old woman killed by an illegal alien who had several felony convictions and who had been deported from the United States five times."

Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) opposes this bill, which it calls "expensive, dangerous, [and] impractical." 

Last Congress, the Trump administration released a statement emphasizing that it "strongly supports" this bill, which it believes would deter reentry and keep criminal unauthorized immigrants off the streets.

There are 13 Republican cosponsors of this bill in the current Congress. Last Congress, this bill passed the House by a 257-167 vote with the support of 17 Republican cosponsors in the House.

Of Note: This legislation has been referred to as Kate’s Law, and was also introduced to Congress under other guises. It is named for Kate Steinle, a woman who was murdered in a sanctuary city by an unauthorized immigrant who had been deported five times and had seven felony convictions.


Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of ICE)


Establishing Mandatory Minimums for Illegal Reentry Act of 2019

Official Title

To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to increase the penalties applicable to aliens who unlawfully reenter the United States after being removed.