Senate Democrats blocked legislation Wednesday from Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzWarren builds her brand with 2020 down the road Trump wall faces skepticism on border No Congress members along Mexico border support funding Trump's wall MORE (R-Texas) that would create tougher penalties for undocumented immigrants who reenter the country after being deported.
Cruz, who is running for president, tried to get unanimous consent to pass his legislation — referred to as "Kate's Law," after Kathryn Steinle, who was shot and killed in San Francisco allegedly by an illegal immigrant who had already been deported five times.
Under the proposal, undocumented immigrants would face additional prison time if they reenter the country, including a minimum five-year sentence if they were previously convicted of an aggravated felony or of illegally reentering the country twice.
Cruz said Congress needs "leadership" on the issue, adding, "enough hot air. ... With whom do you stand? Do you stand with violent criminal illegal aliens or do you stand with American citizens?"
But Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidWarren builds her brand with 2020 down the road 'Tuesday Group' turncoats must use recess to regroup on ObamaCare Dem senator says his party will restore 60-vote Supreme Court filibuster MORE (D-Nev.) blocked Cruz's request, calling it "another attack on the immigrant community."
"The new mandatory minimum sentences created by this bill would have a crippling financial effect, and that's an understatement, with no evidence that they would deter future violations of the law," he added.
Cruz's request came a day after Democrats and some Republicans criticized Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanPelosi: 'Of course' Dems can be against abortion Five fights for Trump’s first year Sunday shows preview: Trump stares down 100-day mark MORE (R-Wis.) for suggesting that immigration reform won't be taken up until after President Obama leaves office.
Reid added on Wednesday that since the Senate passed immigration reform in 2013, "All we've seen from Republican leaders, and their caucuses, is bills attacking immigrants."
The Texas Republican fired back, saying it was "sad" that Reid "chooses to stand with violent illegal criminal aliens instead of the American citizens" and is boxing legal immigrants together with undocumented immigrants.
"I am the son of an immigrant who came legally from Cuba," he added. "For the Democratic leader to cynically suggest that somehow immigrants should be lumped into the same bucket with murderers and rapists demonstrates the cynicism of the modern Democratic Party."
Similar legislation was included in a broader immigration bill from Sen. David VitterDavid VitterFormer senator who crafted chemicals law to lobby for chemicals industry Former GOP rep joins K Street lobbying firm Capitol Counsel Lobbying World MORE (R-La.), which was blocked by Democrats last month during a procedural vote on ending debate to move to his proposal.
Vitter's legislation would have also cracked down on so-called sanctuary cities that don't comply with federal immigration law, such as San Francisco, where Steinle was killed.