A Republican congressman introduced a bill Monday that would hit local officials with fines and jail time if they refuse to comply with federal immigration enforcement orders.
In a sharp response to the not guilty verdict in the Kate Steinle killing, Indiana Rep. Todd Rokita rolled out the Stopping Lawless Actions of Politicians (SLAP) Act, which would hold state and municipal leaders criminally liable if they violate immigration laws.
The bill would punish violators with a $1 million fine and up to five years in prison if they are convicted. Rokita says the harsh penalties are needed to ensure that local officials comply with immigration law.
“Politicians don’t get to pick and choose what laws to comply with,” Rokita told Fox News. “Americans are dying because politicians sworn to uphold the law refuse to do so.”
The national debate over illegal immigration and sanctuary cities heated up again last week, after Mexican national Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was acquitted of the 2015 murder of Steinle in San Francisco. Garcia Zarate had been deported five times and was the subject of a federal immigration detention request at the time of the shooting.
Despite the detainer, jail officials released Garcia Zarate without first notifying immigration authorities, in line with the city’s sanctuary policies. Weeks later, he discharged a pistol on the San Francisco pier, striking and killing Steinle.
Garcia Zarate’s acquittal prompted an angry response from President Donald Trump and top administration officials who blasted San Francisco and other sanctuary jurisdictions for shielding criminal aliens from federal authorities. Attorney General Jeff Sessions singled out San Francisco, saying the “decision to protect criminal aliens led to the preventable and heartbreaking death of Kate Steinle.”
On Monday, Rokita said it was time for the federal government to “get serious” about holding local officials accountable when they don’t cooperate with immigration authorities. The Indiana Republican is also backing Kate’s Law, a bill that would stiffen penalties for illegal aliens who re-enter the U.S. after being deported.
Kate’s Law passed the House this summer and is awaiting a vote in the Senate.
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