Congress could take legislative action in response to the San Francisco shooting that followed the city's decision to release an illegal immigrant who was a convicted felon and was deported five times.
"There is a role" for the House to play in response to the shooting, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told the Washington Examiner in an interview. "This individual should have been deported and that's not just our position. I think there is a role we need to look at within the federal government to those cities that are not abiding by federal law."
McCarthy added, "You could hear from Congress."
Among the possibilities is legislation introduced in recent days by Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., that would prevent the release of illegal immigrants accused of crimes from being released pending deportation. Salmon's "Stop Catch and Release" legislation would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to detain "any alien who is unlawfully present in the United States and is arrested for certain criminal offenses," according to copy of the bill.
"That is one idea," McCarthy said. "And I think there are others out there as well. There will be discussions."
In recent days, both Republicans and Democrats have expressed opposition to a "sanctuary city" policy in San Francisco that allowed Francisco Sanchez to walk free even though U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials were seeking to deport him back to Mexico. Sanchez shot and killed Kathryn Steinle, 32, as she stood on a San Francisco pier.
Across the Capitol, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., has gathered signatures from fellow lawmakers on a letter to Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson "challenging" his department's Priority Enforcement Program, which Republicans say is the driving force that's allowing illegal immigrants to go free.
The Obama administration said the policy would allow immigration enforcement to focus on deporting unlawfully present criminals, rather than breaking up families otherwise law-abiding immigrants who are living here illegally. But Republicans say it goes well beyond that.
"By defining its 'priorities' to exclude large categories of illegal immigrants, including those who have already been ordered deported or those who illegally reenter after having been deported, PEP ensures that countless more dangerous aliens will be released into U.S. communities — allowing otherwise entirely preventable crimes, including some of the most violent and egregious, to occur," Sessions wrote to Johnson. "Immigration enforcement is not supposed to be a game of Russian roulette where we release habitual immigration violators into U.S. communities and hope and pray they don't go on to commit additional criminal offenses."
Sessions ordered Johnson to respond to 13 questions by July 21 that center on the deportation program.
The first questions ask how many illegal immigrants living in the United States have been arrested or convicted of a criminal offense. Sessions also asked Johnson whether "sanctuary cities" plan to cooperate with the Priority Enforcement Program.
Sanctuary cities are under intense criticism from both parties. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Tuesday said in a CNN interview that San Francisco should not have released Sanchez, who ICE officials were seeking to deport.
"I have absolutely no support for a city that ignores the strong evidence that should be acted on," Clinton said.