October 27, 2021

Senate Dems to block bill punishing ‘sanctuary cities’


The Senate will hold a test vote Tuesday on legislation that would punish cities that fail to follow federal immigration laws and guidance, which many Republicans say is leading to preventable violence by illegal immigrants against Americans.

But Democrats are expected to block the bill from advancing.

The bill is authored by Sen. David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican who is running for governor and faces a potentially difficult Oct. 24 primary against Rep. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, and two other Republicans.

Vitter’s bill has received special treatment from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who elected to skip the committee process and “fast track” the measure directly to the Senate floor for a vote.

Vitter’s legislation would withhold some federal funding and grants from sanctuary cities, which are defined in the bill as a state or local government that prohibits law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration officials.

Vitter and ten GOP co-sponsors say the bill is needed following a series of crimes committed by illegal immigrants allowed to remain free in the United States thanks to the protection of sanctuary cities.

Among those victims is Kate Steinle, who was shot to death in July by Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez as she walked with her father on a San Francisco pier. City officials did not notify immigration officials when they released Lopez-Sanchez, even though he was in the country illegally, because of San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy.

Vitter’s legislation would also incorporate Kate’s Law, a measure that would establish a five-year minimum sentence for illegal immigrants who re-enter the United States after an aggravated felony conviction or after twice re-entering the country illegally.

“Policies allowing a safe harbor for illegal immigrants simply needs to end because we know what they can lead to — just ask the Steinle family who so very recently lost their daughter Kate,” Vitter said. “It’s absolutely ridiculous for a U.S. city to ignore our nation’s immigration laws and provide safe harbor for illegal immigrants, and my bill will send the clear message to all sanctuary cities that their dangerous policies won’t be rewarded anymore.”

But Vitter’s bill is unlikely to garner the 60 votes needed to advance.

Most, if not all Democrats will oppose it. In addition, Sens. Dean Heller, of Nevada and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., won’t commit to backing the bill unless they win amendments. Flake backs the withholding of federal funds, for instance, but not the stricter sentencing laws.

President Obama has also promised to veto any bill that punishes sanctuary cities.

More than 200 cites, counties and states operate under sanctuary city laws, according to Numbers USA, a group that advocates for low immigration.

The House in July passed legislation penalizing sanctuary cities, and Obama promised to veto the bill, saying the measure lacked “comprehensive reforms needed to fix the nation’s broken immigration laws.”

Republicans highlighted the bill in their weekly address, delivered Saturday by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.

“Kate Steinle’s murder shed light on the serious public safety risks that happen when sanctuary cities undermine law enforcement,” Toomey said. “In response, the House of Representatives passed legislation this summer with bipartisan support that would help rein in these policies. Now, it’s the Senate’s turn.”

Source: Washington Examiner