White House threatens sanctuary city veto

San Francisco, Immigration, Kathryn Steinle
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The White House on Thursday threatened to veto a bill cracking down on sanctuary cities, which have come under fire since the shooting death earlier this month of a San Francisco woman allegedly by an illegal immigrant with a criminal history.

The bill is scheduled for a vote in the House on Thursday and is expected to pass. The legislation would cut off some federal funding for states and cities that shield undocumented immigrants from federal enforcement authorities.

{mosads}The White House said the legislation “undermines current administration efforts to remove the most dangerous convicted criminals” and fails to enact comprehensive immigration reforms.

The administration argues that President Obama’s 2014 executive actions, which focus deportations on convicted criminals, will be a more effective way to enforce the nation’s immigration laws.  

“The Congress should give [the program] a chance to work, instead of displacing that collaborative approach — which prioritizes the worst offenders — with the coercive approach of this bill, which makes no such differentiation,” the White House said in a statement.

Republicans in Congress have zeroed in on sanctuary cities since the shooting of Kathryn Steinle at a popular San Francisco tourist destination, allegedly by Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an illegal immigrant with a long list of criminal convictions and repeated deportations.

Sanctuary city laws prevent local law enforcement from complying with most federal requests to hold or transfer undocumented immigrants. The suspect in Steinle’s killing was freed from custody by officials in San Francisco, a city that has such laws.

“There is no good rationale for noncooperation between the feds and state and local law enforcement,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who has introduced similar legislation, said Tuesday.

But the White House has dismissed those efforts, blaming Republicans for failing to pass an immigration overhaul.  

“The irony that I have noted in this situation is that many of those pieces of legislation were written and are supported by Republicans who opposed comprehensive immigration reform,” press secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday.

“And you heard me say on countless occasions over the fall that blocking comprehensive immigration reform would perpetuate a system that is the closest thing we have to amnesty.”

Earnest said a comprehensive immigration bill, which passed the Senate in 2013, would have ramped up funding for border security and interior enforcement as well as upping criminal penalties for repeat immigration violators, with prison sentences of up to 20 years.

Tags Chuck Grassley

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