Hispanic Group Angry With Democrats Who Support 'Kate's Law' Immigration Bill

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July 10, 2017

A prominent Hispanic group is calling the actions of a group of House Democrats "shameful" because they voted for a bill that increases the penalties for illegal immigrants who re-enter the United States after being deported.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, or CHC, castigated the 24 Democrats who voted for "Kate's Law" last month, the Hill reports.

Kate's Law is is named after Kate Steinle, who in 2015 was murdered in San Francisco by an illegal immigrant at the age of 32. Authorities said Steinle's killer was Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a convicted felon who had had been deported five times but had returned to the United States.

The measure, which passed 257 to 167, was one of two immigration bills that cleared the House of Representatives on June 29.

Six of the 24 Democrats who voted for Kate's Law have received campaign contributions from the CHC and are the targets of particular criticism, according to the Hill. Those six lawmakers are Democratic Reps. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), Stephanie Murphy (Fla.), Charlie Crist (Fla.), Tom O'Halleran (Ariz.), Ann McLane Kuster (N.H.), and Josh Gottheimer (N.J.).

"I think it's shameful that these members, this handful of Democrats, decided to stand with Donald Trump instead of with Latinos and immigrants—instead of their own constituents," said Cristóbal Alex, president of the Latino Victory Project, a group that campaigns for Hispanic candidates.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the six Democrats received a total of $20,500 from the CHC's Bold PAC. Alex said that amount may be small by the standard of modern campaigns but is a show of support that lawmakers "should not take lightly."

Kate's Law, which faces strong opposition from Senate Democrats, aims to expand the maximum sentences for felons and foreigners who attempt to re-enter the country after being deported, denied entry, or removed.

One of the six targeted representatives, Charlie Crist, said that while he did vote for Kate’s Law, he also voted against the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, the other bill that the House considered. That legislation would force cities to cooperate with federal immigration laws and agencies and allow the federal government to deny funds for law enforcement if the cities do not comply with the law.

"Our number one job is to keep the American people safe, to take appropriate actions to prevent tragedies like the death of Kate Steinle," Crist said in a statement.  "That's why I also voted the same afternoon against legislation punishing law enforcement who believe that being forced to police federal immigration laws would harm their ability to protect the communities they serve."

Both measures passed in the House are part of a push from Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) and the Republican-led House to crackdown on illegal immigration.