Righter opposes bill that would allow illegal immigrants to withdraw guilty pleas
Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) spoke out against a bill that amends the state's criminal code to allow for immigrants to withdraw guilty pleas if it affects their immigration status.
Senate Bill 1610 was sponsored by Sen. Elgie R. Sims Jr. (D-Chicago). It provides that if a defendant is arraigned on or after the effective date of the amended Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963, they have the option of withdrawing their guilty plea if the judge involved failed to inform them it could lead to their deportation.
"Your bill, if it becomes law, would allow an individual who is in the country illegally to have their guilty plea withdrawn if the judge did not advise them that their guilty plea could affect immigration status?" Righter asked Sims during a senate session. He also questioned how many cases like this the state already deals with, to which Sims said he didn't have the numbers.
"The issue of immigration is a hot-button topic," Righter said. "The question that you have before you and that you will have the opportunity to answer from your constituents back home is this: Whether or not you voted to unwind two years of guilty pleas because the individual who was pleading guilty who was in the country illegally suffered some sort of ramification to their immigration status and was not made aware of it. I stand in opposition to this bill."
The bill provides that if a defendant shows that conviction of an offense to which the defendant pleaded guilty, guilty but mentally ill, or nolo contendere, may have the consequence for the defendant of deportation, exclusion from admission to the United States or denial of naturalization under the laws of the United States, the court, shall vacate the judgment and permit the defendant to withdraw the plea of guilty, guilty but mentally ill, or nolo contendere, and enter a plea of not guilty, according to the bill.
The bill passed the Senate with 44 Yes votes and 14 No votes. It will now go on to the House and was referred to the House Rules Committee on March 7.