Illegal immigration bills blocked in Senate

On Wednesday, US Senate Democrats blocked the passage of two bills connected to illegal immigration. Supporters claim these would help to prevent crimes such as the murder of Kate Steinle in 2015 in San Francisco, but which opponents argue uses immigrants as scapegoats.

It is likely that the bills would have been vetoed by President Barack Obama had they made it as far as the White House. Illegal immigration continues to be used as an issue by both the major political parties yet nothing sensible is done, according to Republican Bill Schatzman, Sheriff of Forsyth County. Both bills received support from North Carolina Republican Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr.

Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania introduced the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act. This would have restricted access of cities to gain grants under the Community Development Block Grant program and some Economic Development Assistance programs. On the floor of the Senate, California Senator Barbara Boxer claimed that sanctuary cities helped foster local cooperation with police and that illegal immigration would be better dealt with by comprehensive immigration reform legislation. She claimed that the bill would undermine trust in those communities and actually increase crime.

However, Jessica Vaughn, Policy Studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies, claims that evidence shows more public safety issues are created than solved by such cities. The other bill, named Kate’s Law after Steinle, would have given a minimum sentence of five years to aggravated felons, or deported immigrants who re-enter the US.