President Donald Trump rose to campaign fame on wave of promises to crack down on the border, citing the egregious murder of Californian Kate Steinle — who was shot by an illegal who was taking advantage of San Francisco’s sanctuary city status — as cause for massive concern.
And now, before Congress, is Kate’s Law, a bill that would affix hefty penalties to illegals who commit crimes — crimes above and beyond entering America without legal permission, that is — and against cities that refuse to comply with federal immigration laws.
Republicans in the House were backed by two dozen or so Democrats in voting in favor of this law.
But the Senate, now, must give its OK to the bill. And Democrats may not be so agreeable to its passage.
From the Hill:
Senate Democrats are expressing confidence that they’ll be able to block the bills if they are brought up for a vote.
“I will do whatever I can in order to stop them. These are only punitive in nature, they don’t deal with the totality of the reality of our immigration challenge, and as a continuing part of the Republican saga that only looks at one element, and looks at it in a way that is totally disproportionate,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said.
Democrats previously blocked similar proposals in 2015 and 2016. But a renewed push could force the 10 senators running for reelection in purple and red states won by Trump to take a tough, politically controversial vote.
A top House Democratic aide predicted that “Kate’s Law” would be used in campaign ads against vulnerable Democrats.
“The ad writes itself,” said the aide. “They’re gonna use Kate Steinle’s picture in a Willie Horton-style ad,” referring to a controversial 1988 TV ad used by President George H.W. Bush’s campaign against Michael Dukakis.
Red-state Democrats are remaining tightlipped about the two immigration bills amid the fight in the Senate over repealing ObamaCare.
But Democratic Sens. Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) previously voted to take up a bill toughening penalties on some undocumented immigrants who illegally re-enter the country after being deported.
A senior Senate Democratic aide questioned if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would bring up the House bills with Democrats still largely opposed to tougher immigration proposals.
“Nobody has changed their view on that to my knowledge. I’m not sure McConnell will even bring them up,” the aide said when asked if Democrats would be able to block the House bills similar to previous votes.
But Senate Republicans will likely face growing pressure to move a bill cracking down on illegal immigration after Trump praised the House-passed bill.
“Now that the House has acted, I urged the Senate to take up these bills, pass them, and send them to my desk. I am calling on all lawmakers to vote for these bills and to save American lives,” Trump said after the House’s vote.
Trump spoke of Steinle frequently during his campaign for the White House, saying her shooting — which came in broad dayllight, as she walked along a pier with her father — was a slap in the face to the Constitution, to law and order, to American citizens.
If Democrats halt the bill, voters will likely see it as pure partisanship, driven entirely by their leftist visions for open borders and amnesty.
More, from the Hill:
The House bill could have competition for Senate floor time as lawmakers prepare to return for a jam packed three-week session where they have a slew of must-pass bills and a looming fight over Trump’s FBI nominee.
But conservatives are already clamoring for the Senate to try to crack down on illegal immigration. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) wants a vote this year and has introduced his own version of “Kate’s Law.”
“The House of Representatives took a tremendous step today to protect our national security and ensure the safety of our communities by passing Kate’s Law,” Cruz said after the House’s vote. “I look forward to the Senate swiftly taking up this bill and hopefully, passing it.”
Unlike the House bill, Cruz’s version includes a five-year minimum sentence for any undocumented immigrant who re-enters the country illegally after previously being deported twice or convicted of an aggravated felony.
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