Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., introduced legislation Tuesday that would reclassify a first-time illegal entry at the border as a felony instead of a misdemeanor.
Her Zero Tolerance for Illegal Entry Act would change the punishment for those apprehended illegally entering the U.S. for the first time to one year and one day in prison, which therefore makes it a felony. Today, the misdemeanor offense comes with jail term of up to six months.
The Tennessee lawmaker said she is proposing the change because she believes it would prevent would-be illegal entrants from coming to the U.S., and encourage migrants to apply for asylum at ports of entry instead of using smugglers to travel to the U.S.-Mexico border then cross between ports.
“What this bill does is it sets up a huge disincentive,” she told the Washington Examiner. “There is already a process set up and they should be using what the process is … We’re not penalizing people are who doing things the right way seeking asylum. This is for people who are going around the system.”
Read more at the Washington Examiner.