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Courtney, Woodall Introduce Casey's Law In The House

September 9, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, Rep. Joe Courtney (CT-02) and Rep. Rob Wodall (GA-07) introduced the Remedies for Refusal of Repatriation Act, a measure aimed at reforming the process by which the federal government repatriates criminal nationals to their country of origin. The bill has been referred to as “Casey’s Law” after Casey Chadwick, Norwich woman who was killed by a convicted criminal alien who had a pending deportation order issued against him -- but was not repatriated after his home country refused to accept him. The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives today with original co-sponsor Rep. Elizabeth Esty (CT-05).

“After several high-profile public hearings in Congress and a scathing Inspector General’s report, it is clear that the Departments of Homeland Security and State need to do a much better job of coordinating their efforts to successfully deport the most dangerous criminal aliens,” said Courtney. “In the case of Casey Chadwick, what we now know is that after Haiti repeatedly rejected our requests to deport Jean Jacques, a man with a conviction for attempted murder, the matter was never formally raised with the State department as a means to further pressure the Haitian government to cooperate. These agencies have a responsibility to pursue all the tools and authorities at their disposal to elevate cases like this, and if they will not do so on their own our bipartisan bill will ensure that it occurs.”

“I want to thank Rep. Woodall and other members of Congress from both parties for making this a truly bipartisan effort.  I would also like thank the mother of Casey Chadwick, Wendy Hartling, who has traveled to Washington to share her daughter’s story and advocate for a change in law to prevent this type of tragedy from occurring ever again.”

“This bill isn’t just about a commonsense solution to a serious problem, it’s about taking real, bipartisan steps towards the broader reform America needs,” said Rep. Woodall.  “It’s about making our immigration system work better for everyone – from those who already call the United States home to those who wish to and are going about it the right way.  By working together to find common ground one issue at a time, as this bill does, we’re able to craft solutions and build the trust that empowers us to move forward on larger immigration reform policies.”

The Remedies for Refusal of Repatriation Act would establish in law a framework for the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department to work together to resolve stalemates in repatriating dangerous individuals to their home countries. To do so, the bill would require DHS to develop criteria to determine if a country is systematically refusing to repatriate its criminal nationals. DHS would then share this list of countries with the State Department, and the two agencies would then meet with the governments of those countries and notify them that the United States may move to deny visas to their citizens. The bill also requires the agencies to post information about the recalcitrant countries to their websites and to report annually to Congress on their efforts to improve repatriation rates to these countries. By formalizing the country identification and notification process, the bill will bring the problem of recalcitrant countries to the forefront, increasing pressure on those countries to cooperate with U.S. repatriation efforts and raising the costs of noncooperation.

In June, the DHS Office of the Inspector General released a detailed report which identified a number of key shortcomings in the Department’s handling of the Jean Jacques case. Among its findings, the report notes that while ICE had the option under existing laws and authority to elevate the Jacques case to the State Department, they chose not to due to concerns that State would not act on the matter. Due to the troubling nature of the findings in the report, the IG is currently conducting a broader look at the issues raised – including the lack of interagency cooperation on repatriating criminal foreign nationals in spite of existing agreements to do so. The IG’s review was requested by Courtney and members of the Connecticut delegation last year.

The Courtney/Woodall bill is the House version of a Senate bill introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) earlier this summer.