Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions and several other Republican senators unveiled legislation Thursday to force "sanctuary cities" to cooperate more closely with federal officials on immigration.
Sessions, chairman of a Senate subcommittee on Immigration and National Interest, was joined by co-sponsors Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in introducing the bill, dubbed the Protecting American lives Act.
The bill would "require state and local jurisdictions to notify the federal government when a criminal alien is in their custody; it will withhold funds from any local jurisdiction that releases an alien after a federal detainer has been placed on them; and it will establish a 5-year minimum prison sentence for deported aliens who attempt to illegally re-enter the United States," Sessions said in a statement.
The bill is a response to recent Republican and Democratic complaints to the decision of some cities not to cooperate with federal officials when it comes to detaining illegal immigrants. San Francisco, a sanctuary city, ignored federal requests to detain an illegal immigrant, or to at least inform the government if he were released, and that immigrant has been charged in the shooting death of Kate Steinle.
Steinle's father testified in the Senate on Tuesday, and testified in the House Thursday in hearings on the dangers posed by sanctuary cities.
"On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee — and the nation — heard testimony from grieving families who lost loved ones to criminal alien violence. Each and every one of these deaths, and thousands more like them, were completely preventable," Sessions said. "There is never a reason to allow a dangerous criminal alien to enter, live, or remain in the United States. No parent should ever have to bury a child because we failed to keep violent criminals out of the country or failed to deport them once they were in the country."
The Senate bill would also create a five-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for illegal immigrants who have been previously deported who try to re-enter the U.S. illegally at a later date.
"This legislation … will safeguard against further tragedies by ensuring that sanctuary jurisdictions are no longer allowed or motivated to release criminal aliens into the public sphere," Johnson, who chairs the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in a statement.