Today is Kate Steinle Day, the second anniversary of a woman’s murder by a repeatedly deported illegal-alien felon nestled in the warm embrace of San Francisco’s sanctuary policies. But she wasn’t the first American to be killed by sanctuary-city ordinances, not even in San Francisco. In 2008, a Dreamer convicted-felon gang member protected — twice — from deportation by the city’s policies murdered Anthony Bologna and his sons, Michael and Matthew. And in 2010, Drew Rosenberg was run over three times by an illegal alien with Temporary Protected Status who shortly before had been arrested — and then let go by San Francisco police — for driving without a license or insurance the wrong way down a one-way street.
The House of Representatives finally stepped up this week by passing two bills designed to curb the special protections enjoyed by criminal aliens. The first is Kate’s Law, named for Ms. Steinle, that lengthens the sentence for re-entry after deportation, which is already a felony. The bill, aggressively promoted by Bill O’Reilly, is mainly symbolic — the problem with illegal aliens re-entering after a formal deportation is not that the sentences were too short but that U.S. attorneys often didn’t prosecute at all. There’s nothing wrong with Kate’s Law, but the energy devoted to it over the past two years would have been better spent promoting broader legislation.
Legislation like the other bill passed by the House this week, the No Sanctuaries for Criminals Act. The bill is needed because the Justice and Homeland Security departments have limited ability to fight state and local nullification of federal immigration law, but Congress has more. The potential efficacy of this bill is suggested by the fact that only three House Democrats voted for it, as opposed to the 24 Democrats who voted for Kate’s Law in order to pretend that they care about immigration enforcement. (Only one Republican — Justin Amash – voted against both bills.)
Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte shepherded these two bills, and has several other important pieces of legislation queued up, including the Davis-Oliver Act, which would tighten immigration more broadly, rather than specifically regarding sanctuary cities. But since these bills would need support from eight Senate Democrats to pass (unless the filibuster is returned to its traditional talking format rather than requiring a supermajority for almost all legislation), I don’t see how they become law. When the overwhelming majority of a party’s lawmakers can vote against a symbolic measure like Kate’s Law because they object to the symbolism — opposition to illegal immigration — groups like the newly formed Advocates for Victims of Illegal Alien Crime (AVIAC) still have a lot of work ahead of them.