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U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs pushes to end 'catch and release' in immigration cases involving deportable crimes

January 12, 2017
In The News

An Arizona Republican is again trying to pass federal legislation that would require illegal immigrants charged with deportable crimes to be jailed.

The bill is dubbed "Grant's law" after Grant Ronnebeck, a Mesa man who police say was slain in 2015 over the purchase of cigarettes by an illegal immigrant already convicted of felony burglary.

Ronnebeck's death attracted national attention, including from President-elect Donald Trump, as a symptom of a broken immigration system.

The new bill was introduced Thursday by freshman U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, and is largely the same as a measure sought in the last Congress by his predecessor, Matt Salmon.

That bill quietly failed with support from 45 other House Republicans, including all of Arizona's GOP delegation, but no Democrats.

With Republicans now controlling the House of Representatives, the Senate and with Trump set to take office next week, the bill could find stronger support this time.

Ronnebeck, 21, was gunned down in January 2015 while working third shift at a QuikTrip store in Mesa.

The man charged with killing him, Apolinar Altamirano, was in the country illegally and had been released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement even though he had been previously convicted of felony burglary.


The new bill would effectively end the “catch and release” of illegal immigrants arrested for deportable crimes, Biggs said.

“Without the Obama administration’s abject failure to protect innocent American lives," Biggs said in a statement, "Grant’s murder would not have occurred. I am introducing this law in Grant’s memory to prevent this senseless violence from occurring again.”

Trump mentioned the killing repeatedly on the campaign trail last year.

During a major speech on immigration issues in Phoenix in August, Trump called Ronnebeck "a really good guy from Mesa" and one of the "victims of the Obama-Clinton open-border policy. ... He was murdered by an illegal immigrant gang member previously convicted of burglary, who had also been released from federal custody, and they knew it was going to happen again."

Altamirano, 31, is still awaiting trial on murder and other charges related to Ronnebeck's death.

U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., is pushing for the passage of federal legislation that would require illegal immigrants charged with deportable crimes to be jailed. (Photo: Jack Gruber/USA TODAY)