A coalition of immigration advocacy and civil rights groups is urging Congress not to push forward with bills to crack down on “sanctuary cities,” an issue that's been thrown into the 2016 campaign spotlight after an undocumented immigrant allegedly fatally shot a woman in California this month, Politico reports. The groups are warning against measures that would “seek to undermine state and local law enforcement's efforts to build and restore community trust” after of the death of Kathryn Steinle, who authorities say was shot and killed by Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a Mexican immigrant here illegally. “Good policies are made over time, by examining our shared values and opinions, and by working toward equality and justice for all people,” said the group, led by the National Immigration Law Center and United We Dream. “They are not made based on a single, tragic incident or by taking the actions of one individual to justify a policy that criminalizes an entire community.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing today that will bring extra congressional scrutiny to the issue, and Steinle's father, Jim, will testify. His daughter's death has brought attention to “sanctuary cities” in which local law enforcement officials take steps to provide safe harbor to undocumented immigrants by declining to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. Lopez-Sanchez had been deported several times and had a lengthy criminal record. In response to the death, several Republicans have released bills going after “sanctuary cities,” including a measure from Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) that would ban federal funds for cities that don't cooperate with immigration officials. House Republicans will put an immigration bill targeting sanctuary cities on the floor later this week. The legislation from Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) threatens to withhold various Justice Department grants to cities and states if they withhold information from federal immigration authorities.