"Casey's Law" proposals now before both chambers of Congress

Lawmakers have introduced proposals in both chambers of Congress for legislation that has become known as "Casey's Law" for a Norwich woman who was killed in June 2015 by a Haitian national who should have been deported after an earlier conviction for attempted murder.

On Friday, U.S. Reps. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, and Rob Woodall, R-Georgia, introduced the Remedies for Refusal of Repatriation Act in the House of Representatives.

The bill, also cosponsored by U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, is aimed at improving the process of deporting illegal immigrants convicted of violent crimes.

U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, introduced the legislation in the Senate earlier this summer.

"I'm thrilled," said Wendy Hartling, mother of murder victim Casey Chadwick, 25, who was fatally stabbed in her 16 Spaulding St., Norwich, apartment on June 15, 2015.

Hartling has become an advocate for immigration reform for victims since learning that her daughter's killer, Jean Jacques, had been ordered deported after a 1996 conviction for attempted murder and had been detained by immigration officials multiple times but released after Haiti refused to accept him back.

Convicted of Chadwick's murder after a trial this spring, Jacques was sentenced in June to the maximum sentence of 60 years. 

The lawmakers say "Casey's Law" would establish a framework for the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department to work together to identify countries that are systematically refusing to accept criminal nationals.

The two agencies would work together to resolve the stalemates and would meet with the governments of those countries and notify them that the United States may move to deny visas to their citizens.

The bill also requires the agencies to post information about the recalcitrant countries to their websites and to report annually to Congress on their efforts to improve repatriation rates to these countries.

By identifying the countries, the bill would increase pressure on them to cooperate with U.S. repatriation efforts and raise the costs of not cooperating, according to Courtney's office. 

"In the case of Casey Chadwick, what we now know is that after Haiti repeatedly rejected our requests to deport Jean Jacques, a man with a conviction for attempted murder, the matter was never formally raised with the State department as a means to further pressure the Haitian government to cooperate," Courtney said in a statement.

"These agencies have a responsibility to pursue all the tools and authorities at their disposal to elevate cases like this, and if they will not do so on their own our bipartisan bill will ensure that it occurs," he said.

Chadwick's case also has drawn the attention of Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump, who mentioned her "tragic death" last month during an immigration policy speech.

Chadwick's mother said she would be traveling to Houston, Texas, next weekend for the Remembrance Project, a national conference for families of victims killed by illegal immigrants, and that Trump is expected to speak at a conference luncheon.

"When he mentioned her, I started crying," Hartling said. "I was thrilled that she's getting the national attention she deserves."

Hartling said one of the Remembrance Project's goals is to "get the laws we already have to work."

k.florin@theday.com

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