Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and his Republican colleagues, namely Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, have introduced a bill to punish so-called “sanctuary cities,” which do not deport undocumented immigrants.
The bill would withhold federal grants, such as State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) grants, community development block grants and police grants, the Washington Examiner reported.
It would also increase the penalty for those who re-enter the country illegally, setting the mandatory minimum sentence for those caught at five years in prison. Under current law, those who are caught in the country illegally after being deported are subject to fines and up to two years in prison, according to FindLaw.
The legislation falls in line with renewed criticism of sanctuary cities following the death of Kate Steinle in San Francisco, who was allegedly shot by an undocumented immigrant who had been deported repeatedly.
“In the time since Ms. Steinle’s death, we have seen similar murders and other terrible acts of violence against law abiding citizens across the United States,” Vitter said, according to Breitbart News. "It is outrageous that the policies allowing these crimes to happen have not changed. We need to send a loud and clear message to any sanctuary cities that their dangerous policies are not acceptable."
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky will fast-track the bill, so it could be up for a vote in October.
There are sanctuary counties in both Cruz and Vitters’ respective states, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. Travis County, Texas, and Orleans Parish, Louisiana, both have conditional policies that grant a safe haven for undocumented immigrants.