Senate could take up tougher penalties for illegal immigrants
© Greg Nash
The Senate could take up legislation next week that would create tougher penalties for undocumented immigrants who reenter the country after previously being deported. 
 
 
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The proposal is named after Kathryn Steinle, who was shot and killed in San Francisco, allegedly by an illegal immigrant who had already been deported five times. Her death reinvigorated a larger debate over immigration and limiting federal funding for sanctuary cities, which don't comply with federal immigration law. 
 
The potential vote — which was first reported by the Associated Press — comes after the Republican leader fast-tracked legislation last month from Sen. Ted Cruz, who is running for president. The move allowed the Texas Republican's legislation to be placed directly on the Senate calendar where it could be brought up for a vote, though no vote has been scheduled. 
 
Under Cruz's legislation, undocumented immigrants face additional prison time if they reenter the country after being deported, including a minimum five-year sentence if they were previously convicted of an aggravated felony or of illegally reentering the country twice. 
 
The proposal is backed by a handful of Senate Republicans — including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) who is currently locked in a separate immigration fight with Cruz. Democrats, however, would likely block any attempts to move forward with Cruz's legislation or a similar proposal. 
 
When the Texas Republican tried to get unanimous consent to pass his bill earlier this month he was stopped by Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), calling it "another attack on the immigrant community."
 
Democrats also blocked legislation earlier this year from Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) that would have cracked down on "sanctuary cities." Vitter's legislation was also fast-tracked and includes the same mandatory minimum sentence as Cruz's legislation. 
 
McConnell, at the time, urged his colleagues to support Vitter's legislation, saying that it would strengthen "deterrence for criminals who commit felonies and then try to illegally re-renter our country."