The House of Representatives voted yesterday to punish local jurisdictions known as “sanctuary cities” that defy federal immigration authorities in order to protect immigrants living illegally in the U.S., the Washington Post reports. The 241-to-179 vote, which was backed by Republican leaders and came largely along party lines, is the most dramatic action taken by Congress after new attention on illegal immigration after the July 1 killing of a 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle on a San Francisco pier.
The shooting by an illegal immigrant who was released from local police custody despite a detention request from federal authorities has fueled a national debate that has been turbocharged by remarks of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. “Due to disjointed law and basic incompetence on many levels, the U.S. has suffered a self-inflicted wound by the hand of a person who never should have been on the streets of this country,” Steinle’s father, Jim, said Tuesday. Under the new legislation, cities that do not comply fully with federal immigration authorities would be ineligible for various Justice Department law enforcement grants, including a program that reimburses local jurisdictions for the cost of detaining illegal immigrants accused of or convicted of crimes. It is not clear whether the Senate would pass such a measure, however.