- Metro-Washington Airport Officer Shot and Killed by Wife
- New York Student Killed During Shooting between Intruder and Police
- College Student, Intruder Killed in New York Break-In
- Motorcycle Deputy Critically Hurt in East Georgia Dies
- Ohioan to Appeal Conviction in 'Dying Blinks' Case
- Woman in Towed Car Likely Died at North Carolina Crash Scene, Autopsy Finds
- New Mexico Mom Chases Down Child Abductor; Man Arrested
PUNTA GORDA, Fla. - - In response to the shooting death of Fort Myers police Officer Andrew Widman, U.S. Rep. Tim Mahoney announced Tuesday during a news conference at the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office his plans to introduce a bill to strengthen immigration laws.
Widman, a husband and father of three children, was shot and killed in the early hours of July 18 when he tried to intervene in a domestic fight outside of a Fort Myers nightclub.
The assailant, 26-year-old legal alien Abel Arango, was subsequently shot and killed by other officers at the scene as he attempted to flee.
Arango was on state probation for armed robbery and was arrested in April for selling cocaine. After being held in jail for one month, Arango was released on bond.
This situation, said Mahoney, a Democrat representing Florida's District 16, could have been avoided if the Immigration and Nationality Act was tougher.
Under the current law, he said immigrants who are ordered to be deported but fail to be sent back to their home country cannot be held for longer than six months in jail unless they are deemed to be a threat to public safety, health or national security.
This coincides with a Supreme Court ruling in 2000 that gave the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency the ability to make the decision on whether the criminal is regarded as a threat.
Arango had been ordered to be deported back to Cuba, however, the country would not accept him.
"This is not an unusual situation," Mahoney said. "It's a problem here in Florida."
In response to the tragedy, Mahoney will be bringing the Officer Andrew Widman Criminal Alien Enforcement Act of 2008 before Congress in two weeks, for the purposes of taking discretion out of the hands of immigration authorities by accomplishing four points:
* In the case of a violent felon who has an order to be deported but cannot be returned to his or her home country, the immigrant will remain incarcerated.
* Assessments by ICE will be required for all criminals, regardless of if they are deemed violent.
* If an immigrant is deemed not violent and is released, he will be part of a federal probationary program for as long as he resides in the United States.
* Probation violators will be treated as violent offenders and will be incarcerated until they are deported.
"Had these four things been in place, I believe that this tragedy wouldn't have happened," said Mahoney, whose district includes parts of Charlotte, Glades, Hendry, Highlands, Okeechobee, St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach
Fort Myers Police Department Maj. Doug Baker, who is serving as the agency's interim chief, supports the proposed bill.
"This is an exciting day, but on the other hand, I still believe it is a tremendously sad day that it would take the loss of a very young officer, a husband and a father to bring us here today," he said.
However, he said it is a step in the right direction to protect law enforcement officers across the nation.