Soon after our September 6th meeting between members of Indivisible Baltimore, Indivisible Towson, Indivisible Howard County, and CASA with Representative Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-2) on his ‘yes’ vote on Kate’s Law, we received word that a little-known bill, H.R. 3697 Criminal Alien Gang Members Removal Act – which would give the Trump administration far-reaching powers to deport undocumented immigrants for alleged gang ties – would move to the House floor for a full vote as early as September 12.
Given the parallels between H.R. 3697 and Kate’s Law – both sensationalize immigrant crime and act to validate Trump’s myth of an immigrant crime wave – Indivisible National specifically sought to target House Democrats that had broken party ranks and voted for Kate’s Law to urge them to oppose H.R. 3697.
In our meeting with Representative Ruppersberger, we felt that the Congressman had heard our concerns about laws that single out immigrants over other Americans for harsher law enforcement. Although he defended his vote for Kate’s Law on its merits, we felt he understood our message about its impact within the broader context of Trump administration’s anti-immigrant rhetoric. The Congressman told us, under no uncertain terms, he opposed stepped up ICE deportations and continued harassment of immigrant communities by DHS and the DOJ.
Following news of H.R. 3697’s movement towards a full House vote, Indivisible Baltimore, Indivisible Towson, and Indivisible Howard County quickly sent a joint letter to Ruppersberger’s office urging the Congressman to vote against the bill. We urged Indivisible members throughout the region to contact Representative Ruppersberger, as well as Representatives Cummings and Sarbanes, his fellow members in the Baltimore federal delegation. We heard from callers that staffers in Ruppersberger’s office said that they had received numerous calls asking them to oppose H.R. 3697, and told many of the callers that the Congressman had a productive meeting with Indivisible the previous week on this very issue.
On Thursday, September 14, the House passed H.R. 3697 on a largely party-line vote of 233-175. However, unlike in Kate’s Law, where 24 House Democrats voted in support of the law, only 11 House Democrats voted for H.R. 3697. We are pleased to report that Representative Ruppersberger was one of those House Dems who voted ‘yes’ on Kate’s Law and ‘no’ on H.R. 3697. Although the Congressman did not release a statement on the vote, his office did contact us afterwards to confirm he voted against the bill, and thanked us for our efforts.
We want to thank the entire Baltimore Delegation – Representatives Cummings, Ruppersberger, and Sarbanes, for voting against H.R. 3697. We also wanted to thank Representative Ruppersberger and his office for doing an outstanding job staying engaged with Indivisible groups throughout his district.