Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley announced during a hearing on Tuesday that he is proposing legislation which will impose mandatory minimum prison sentences on illegal aliens who re-enter the U.S. after deporation and will withhold federal funding from cities and counties that adopt “sanctuary city” policies.
Tuesday’s hearing was split into two panels. The second panel consisted of federal immigration officials. The first panel consisted mostly of parents and family members of people killed by illegal aliens.
One panelist was Jim Steinle, the father of Kate Steinle, the 32-year-old woman who was fatally shot on July 1 by Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an illegal alien who has been deported from the U.S. five times and has an extensive felony record.
Lopez-Sanchez was released onto the streets of San Francisco in April by the sheriff’s department because of its sanctuary city policies which prohibit local agencies from working with federal immigration agencies. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had placed a detainer request with the sheriff’s department, but the agency ignored it.
Lopez-Sanchez has admitted to shooting Steinle.
The national outrage following Steinle’s death has prompted action from lawmakers in both the House and, now, the Senate.
“Enforcing the immigration laws in this country is not a voluntary or trivial matter. Real lives are at stake. Things cannot continue this way,” Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said Tuesday.
His bill requires the executive branch to withhold federal funding from state and local law enforcement agencies “if they refuse to cooperate with federal government in holding and transferring criminal aliens.”
Grassley specifically named law enforcement-related grants distributed by the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department as being at risk.
“My bill will also require mandatory minimum five-year prison sentence in addition to possible fine for individuals who enter the United States after having been deported,” Grassley said, noting that “current law does not require prisoner time and caps the possible prison sentence at two years.”
“This section of my bill is aimed at individuals who ignore our laws time and again.”
During his remarks, Grassley admonished the Obama administration which he says has “publicly stated that they neither believed detainers have to be honored nor that they even want them to be mandatory.”
The Obama administration has indeed issued fewer detainer requests in recent years as it has adopted a more liberal immigration policy. In fiscal year 2013, ICE issued 212,455 detainer requests. That fell to 161,322 in 2014.
Jim Steinle offered support for new legislation to reform sanctuary city policies.
“Unfortunately, due to un-jointed laws and basic incompetence of the government, the U.S. has suffered a self-inflicted wound in the murder of our daughter by the hand of a person that should have never been on the streets in this country,” he said Tuesday.