Senate Democrats Block GOP ‘Kate’s Law’

Kathryn Steinle
Kathryn Steinle

Kate’s Law would have required a five-year minimum prison sentences for undocumented immigrants who re-enter the country after one conviction for a violent felony or two convictions for illegal immigration.

Kate’s Law was attached to legislation removing funding from ‘sanctuary cities’ that  harbor illegal immigrants and restrict local police from cooperating with federal officers in immigration cases.

“San Francisco … commanded their law enforcement, their police department, not to cooperate with federal officials seeking to prosecute immigration issues,” Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) said in a floor speech Tuesday.

“Think about how absurd this is: If federal officials had called the San Francisco Police Department about any other kind of crime — larceny, a burglary, a trademark violation — they would have been happy to cooperate … but because the crime was related to illegal immigration, the San Francisco Police Department’s hands were tied,” he said. “The police were forced to release the man who would then go on to kill Kate Steile.”

Senate Democrats blocked a GOP plan Tuesday.

The bill failed on a 54-45 vote. It needed 60 to advance.

The Stop Sanctuary Cities Act became a lightning rod issue ahead of the vote, as GOP sponsors tried to peel off just a few Democrats to support it while Democratic leaders blasted the legislation as counterproductive. The White House issued a formal veto threat Tuesday morning, while the chamber’s top Democrat tried to discredit the measure by calling it “The Donald Trump Act.”

But GOP backers cast the legislation as a critical first step toward reining in the exploding, and risky, practice of cities and counties ignoring federal immigration law.

“Sanctuary cities and the associated violent crimes by illegal immigrants are reaching a critical point, and we cannot wait any longer to take action to protect Americans here at home,” sponsor Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said in a statement.

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