|Pennacchio Introduces Bill to End Sanctuary State Protections for Sex Offenders
Mandates Megan’s Law Registration for All Offenders, Regardless of Where Offense was Committed & Requires Local Police to Cooperate with Feds in Sex Abuse Cases
Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26) has introduced legislation to ensure illegal immigrants who have been convicted or are fleeing a sex crime charge from another country are required to register under Megan’s Law when they are apprehended in New Jersey.
The bill also states that if local police are unable to confirm the legal immigration status of a convicted sex offender, they must notify and cooperate with the appropriate federal authority.
“Sex offenders should not be given safe harbor in New Jersey, just because the offense was committed in another country,” Pennacchio said. “New Jersey has a dangerous loophole, that allows illegal immigrants who are convicted or fleeing sex crime charges from another country to fly under the radar – and the State Attorney General’s recent Sanctuary State directive made this even worse.
“Anyone who commits a Megan’s Law offense should face justice. Local law enforcement should also be required to cooperate with the feds, to ensure that sex offenders aren’t allowed to hide in plain sight and put our families in harm’s way. My legislation tackles both of these dangerous problems,” Pennacchio added.
Pennacchio’s S-3572, which was formally introduced on Thursday, March 7, 2019, would require convicted or fleeing sex offenders from foreign countries to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law in New Jersey.
The bill would also mandate law enforcement agencies to inquire about the immigration status of a convicted sex offender, and notify and cooperate with federal immigration authorities if the offender’s legal presence in the United States cannot be confirmed.
Under Attorney General Grewal’s 2018 Sanctuary State directive, law enforcement is not required to cooperate with federal immigration authorities under any circumstances, even in cases where an illegal immigrant has been convicted of a sex crime on U.S. soil.
Moreover, under current State law, offenders who commit such sex crimes in other countries are not required to register under Megan’s Law, unlike sex offenders who commit their crimes in the United States. Senator Pennacchio’s legislation aims to close both of these dangerous loopholes.
Megan’s Law was signed into law in 1994. The law is named for Megan Kanka, a Hamilton New Jersey resident who was raped and murdered by her neighbor at the age of nine. The law created a registry that requires New Jersey law enforcement to disclose the location of registered sex offenders to protect those living nearby.
Pennacchio has a long history of sponsoring landmark legislation to hold sex abusers accountable for their crimes. His legislation includes the recently-signed “Pass the Trash” bill, which prevents child abusers from being transferred between schools; and the “Jessica Lunsford Act,” which mandates minimum sentencing of 25 years to life for the aggravated sexual assault of a child under 13.
“Sanctuary states should not protect sex offenders,” Pennacchio added. “New Jersey residents demanded action following the horrific murder of Megan Kanka. Legal residents must comply with Megan’s Law. My legislation will ensure people who are here illegally are held to the same standards.”
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