Dems block GOP plan to penalize 'sanctuary cities'

A coalition of mostly Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday blocked a Senate measure that would have penalized so-called "sanctuary cities" and toughened prison sentences for immigrants who commit violent crimes or re-enter the United States illegally.

The bill would withhold some federal funding from cities that refuse to comply with federal immigration laws or cooperate with federal immigration officials who require local law enforcement to incarcerate or turn over illegal immigrants.

It included "Kate's Law," a measure that would establish a five-year minimum sentence for illegal immigrants who re-enter the United States after an aggravated felony conviction or after twice re-entering the country illegally. The legislation was authored following the July 1 murder of Kate Steinle, who was shot by an illegal immigrant released by San Francisco police despite an order by the Department of Homeland Security to keep him incarcerated.

But while members of both parties said came out against sanctuary cities after Steinle's death, Democrats roundly opposed the bill. In an afternoon vote, the bill failed to win the 60 votes it needed to advance, and instead fell short 54-45.

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