The House of Representatives approved two bills to crack down on illegal immigration, a key priority for President Donald Trump. The bills that were passed on Thursday, were aimed at punishing so-called “sanctuary cities” and is moving towards other immigration policies supported by President Trump.
The first bill is known as “Kate’s Law” is named after Kathryn Steinle, who was shot and killed in San Francisco by Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant, with an extensive rap sheet who was previously deported. Kate’s Law would increase criminal penalties for illegal immigrants who re-enter the United States illegally, according to an official statement released by the White House.
Months before her death, Lopez had been released by sheriff’s officials despite a request by immigration officials to keep him locked up behind bars.
The second bill, the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, restricts taxpayer grant money to cities that prevent their police from turning over dangerous criminal aliens to federal authorities.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke about “Kate’s Law” on Thursday and said, “[Kate] would still be alive today if only the city of San Francisco had put the public’s safety first. How many more Americans must die before we put an end to this madness?”
Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said that the two bills would help to avoid this kind of tragic situation in the future. The sanctuary measure follows “a simple principle that if you’re going to receive taxpayer dollars from the federal government to keep people safe, that you’ve got to follow the law and keep them safe.”
Lopez-Sanchez pleaded not guilty to killing 32-year-old, Kate Steinle.
Cities like San Francisco have prohibited municipal employees from using city funds or resources to aid in the enforcement of the federal immigration law. San Francisco City Attorney, Dennis Herrera, asserted that his city’s policies do not violate Section 1373. He also submitted a complaint to the U.S. Court district and argued that section 1373 is “unconstitutional on its face,” according to Daily News.
“… Any city funds or resources to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law or to gather or disseminate information regarding release status of individuals.”
However, sanctuary city defenders claim it is the job of state and local police to enforce federal immigration law.
The city of San Francisco and the County of Santa Clara sued over Trump’s plan to withhold federal funds from cities found harboring illegal immigrants. California cannot interfere with federal immigration officers conducting deportation raids in the state. However, the Golden State can stop local deputies and police from helping the federal authorities enforce immigration laws, according to USA Today.
It was Federal Judge Orrick, of the Northern District of California, that issued the injunction against Trump, according to the Washington Times. In 2015, Federal Judge William Orrick III issued a restraining order against the advocacy group that is responsible for undercover videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood employees plotting to sell baby organs, according to the Fox News.
Trump initially issued an executive order issued January 27, 2017, barring citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days and refugees for 120 days. President Trump passionately asserted that there is a “court breakdown,” which is allowing a surge in people from the seven countries coming into the U.S.
What Are Sanctuary Cities?
“Sanctuary” is not an official designation as there is no one true definition of what a sanctuary jurisdiction is. In general terms, a city, country or state can be considered to have sanctuary status if it chooses to place restrictions on the degree to which law enforcement can enforce immigration law, according to NPR.
Many opponents call sanctuary cities obstruction of federal law.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez said “Kate’s Law” would not have had an impact on the Steinle case, highlighting that Steinle was killed in July 2015 by an immigrant who had been mistakenly released by the federal Bureau of Prisons. According to the Daily Mail, he said the bill would put other people who are “in different circumstances,” in jail for longer periods of time.
Gutierrez said it was a bait-and-switch strategy, “Use a horrible tragedy to sell a policy that would not have prevented that death, so that you put more immigrants in jail for longer periods of time.”
The House passed Kate’s Law 257 to 167 and the sanctuary cities bill 228 to 195. Three Democrats joined all but seven Republicans to pass the sanctuary measure, while 24 Democrats backed the deportee bill. The only Republican who opposed the deportee bill was Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan.
The bills will now go to the Senate.
President Donald Trump said in a statement following the bills’ passage, “Opposing these bills, and allowing dangerous criminals back into our communities, our schools, and the neighborhoods where our children play puts all of us at risk.” He added, “Now that the House has acted, I urged the Senate to take up these bills, pass them, and send them to my desk.”
[Featured Image by Win McNamee/Getty Images]