Congress’ Toughest Immigration Bill Is Still Waiting In The Wings

REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Alex Pfeiffer White House Correspondent
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The toughest anti-illegal immigration bill remains on hold as Congress is set to vote on two anti-illegal immigration bills Wednesday that the White House supports.

Kate’s Law and the No Sanctuary For Criminal Aliens Act both work to fulfill President Trump’s immigration agenda. The president frequently mentioned the murder of Kate Steinle on the campaign trail. She was murdered in 2015, and a five-time deported illegal immigrant currently faces charges for the crime. If signed, the law would increase penalties for deported immigrants who return to the U.S.

The other bill the House is expected to vote on Wednesday, the No Sanctuary For Criminal Aliens Act, also works to fulfill a Trump campaign promise. The law would not allow jurisdictions that refuse to comply with federal immigration detainers to receive grants from The Department of Homeland Security and The Department of Justice. Those funds would instead be allocated to localities that comply with detainers.

The act would also prohibit state and local law enforcement officials from refusing to assist or cooperate with federal efforts to enforce immigration laws. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that the both bills are “major priorities for the president,” and added, “we look forward to signing them both.”

The Davis-Oliver Act, however, has gotten approval from the House Judiciary Committee and would accomplish what both these laws would do and more. The bill calls for the hiring of over 10,000 new immigration officers, allows local law enforcement personnel to create and enforce immigration law consistent with federal law, makes all immigrants – legal or not – in criminal street gangs deportable and punishes countries that don’t cooperate with deportation proceedings.

Robert Law, government relations director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, told The Daily Caller that the immigration control group is “really disappointed with this approach.” Law said the two laws are fine bills and a “step in the right direction, but it’s a real missed opportunity.”

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, gave similar comments to TheDC. He wrote in an email that the Davis-Oliver Act is “clearly a broader measure that addresses more than just the sanctuary issue.”

“But so long as the No Sanctuary bill and Kate’s Law are the starting point, and not the end point, of Congress’s work on immigration, they’re a good start,” Krikorian added. “Kate’s Law is pretty narrow, but the No Sanctuary bill really moves the ball forward — it’s not a touchdown, like the Davis-Oliver Act would be, but it’s a solid first down.”

Law went on to tell TheDC that there is “justification for keeping it on the sideline and going for a smaller bill.” He said that his understanding is that the “administration supports this approach of taking baby steps before going for the bigger bill.”

An email from a Republican lobbyist obtained by TheDC says that the White House hopes to sign these two bills to get a quick win and that this is due to a push from White House senior adviser Stephen Miller. The lobbyist also worried in the email that leadership will not live up to promises to vote on Davis-Oliver down the line. Law told TheDC that he would not be surprised if there is no floor vote by October.

Republican Iowa Rep. Steve King told TheDC, “Members don’t yet know all the issues wrapped up in Davis-Oliver. We are bringing them up to speed with a series of meetings. So far, no significant opposition, among Republicans, with the bill.”

“The White House wants the bill,” King added. Hours after this article was published the White House confirmed to TheDC that it does support the Davis-Oliver Act.