House Republicans crack down on immigration with pair of unpopular bills

June 29, 2017, 7:09pm

The House passed two controversial pieces of legislation Thursday in service of Trump’s broader crackdown on immigration, approving one bill that would strengthen criminal penalties against illegal immigrants and another that would strip federal funding from sanctuary cities.

The first bill, known as Kate’s Law, is named after Kate Steinle, a woman who was allegedly murdered by a convicted criminal who reentered the United States illegally after being deported five times. The legislation imposes harsher punishments on convicted criminals who entered the United States illegally, raising the maximum prison sentence for people with criminal records or people who reenter after being deported.

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“MAKE AMERICA SAFE AGAIN!” Trump tweeted Thursday.

The second piece of legislation, called the “No Sanctuary for Criminals Act,” would deny federal dollars from sanctuary cities — the unofficial term used to denote cities that curtail their enforcement of national immigration law.

“These bills are nothing new and they are not really about immigration or fighting crime,” said Rep. Luis Gutierrez during the House floor debate. “They are about racial profiling and putting Latinos, quote unquote, in our place.”

Ever since the legislation was announced, however, major U.S. cities, including San Francisco, have pledged to defy the law.

“Our local police should not be responsible for enforcing federal immigration laws,” Rep. Doris Matsui of California said. “The expectation that our local law enforcement work as a deportation force only weakens public safety.”

Seattle officials even sued the Trump administration back in March, arguing that stripping sanctuary cities of funding was not only unconstitutional, but also likely to be dangerous.

Trump’s new legislation still needs to pass the Senate, where it seems likely to die, if history is any indication — both bills were blocked by Senate Democrats the last time it came to a vote in July 2016.