Senate Republicans are moving to bring legislation targeting sanctuary cities to the floor for a vote.
The legislation, introduced by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), would restrict federal funds and grants to jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, providing a sanctuary for illegal immigrants. The bill would also establish a mandatory sentence of five years for illegal immigrants convicted of re-entering the U.S. after being convicted of an aggravated felony or of illegally re-entering the U.S. twice.
“Three months ago, Kate Steinle was murdered in San Francisco by an illegal immigrant who should have never been walking the streets in the first place,” Vitter said Wednesday in reference to the crime that has sparked a national outcry over sanctuary cities.
“In the time since Ms. Steinle’s death, we have seen similar murders and other terrible acts of violence against law abiding citizens across the United States – it is outrageous that the policies allowing these crimes to happen have not changed. We need to send a loud and clear message to any sanctuary cities that their dangerous policies are not acceptable,” he added.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is using the procedural fast-track process to bypass the Judiciary Committee and bring the bill to the floor for a vote, according to The Hill.
The legislation is cosponsored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) as well as Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Ron Johnson (R-WI), John Cornyn (R-TX), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and John Barrasso (R-WY), David Perdue (R-GA), and Dan Sullivan (R-AK)
A bill targeting sanctuary cities, as reported by Politico, had been held up in committee due to Republican objections over mandatory sentencing minimums. Judiciary Committee members Mike Lee (R-UT) and Jeff Flake’s (R-AZ) opposition to imposing a five year mandatory minimum sentence on illegal re-entry offenders made passage of the legislation through the committee process unlikely.
Instead, Vitter’s legislation will receive a vote on the floor early as this month.
The House passed legislation restricting federal funding to sanctuary cities earlier this year.
The murder of Kathryn Steinle in July spurred the effort to legislate against sanctuary cities. A multiple deportee illegal immigrant with a long rap sheet allegedly shot Steinle months after he was released from custody due to San Francisco’s sanctuary policy of ignoring immigration detainers.
“This is a fair and appropriate approach for Congress to take in response to the thousands of federal immigration detainers being ignored and the need to keep illegal immigrants who have previously committed felonies off the streets,” Grassley said Wednesday.
“We’ve seen far too many people hurt because of sanctuary policies – whether aided by the Obama administration or the fact that our state and local governments are afraid of getting sued. The families of these victims deserve better of their government,” he added.