EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., on Tuesday introduced a bill that would make it a federal crime to flee Border Patrol and other immigration law enforcement — after a number of instances occurring amid the crisis at the southern border.
The Criminalize Fleeing from Immigration Enforcement Act would make fleeing federal state or local law enforcement when being pursued for immigration crimes — such as illegal re-entry and smuggling illegal immigrants — punishable by up to five years in prison, or eight if they flee at high speeds.
“I was very troubled to learn that for the most part, aliens can flee law enforcement officers, like Border Patrol, from enforcing our nation’s immigration laws with impunity,” Rosendale said in a statement. “This commonsense legislation would fix that.”
The bill has nine co-sponsors.
Rosendale, a freshman congressman, cited a recent case in Montana, where he said Border Patrol released a suspected illegal immigrant as they could not prove he was not an American citizen — and could not charge him for fleeing in a high-speed chase as that in itself was not a federal crime.
The bill comes amid increasing concern over a spike in migrant numbers at the border and the risks that come to an increase in illegal migration at the border.
Eight illegal immigrants were recently pronounced dead in Texas after the truck they were traveling in crashed head-on with another vehicle, officials said. The fatal accident occurred about 30 miles north of Del Rio, a city on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) encountered more than 100,000 migrants at the border in February, amid fears that the numbers could dwarf those seen at the peak of the 2019 crisis.
Fox News’ Greg Norman contributed to this report.