Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on two pieces of legislation concerning illegal immigration. Both H.R. 300 (“Kate’s Law”) and H.R. 3003 (“Sarah’s Law”) passed the lower chamber, largely, but not entirely, on party lines. For the Long Island delegation, the vote on Kate’s Law was along party lines, with Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) and Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Smithtown) voting “yes” and both Rep. Kathleen Rice (R-Garden City) and Rep. Thomas R. Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) voting “no.”
The surprise was Rep. King voting against Sarah’s Law. That bill would deny certain federal grants to cities deemed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as “sanctuary cities.” That bill passed by a 235-189 margin, with three Democrats voting for it and seven Republicans joining the Democratic Party caucus in opposition. One of those Republicans was Rep. Daniel Donovan, who represents a district in Staten Island and Brooklyn, both part of New York City, which is defined as a sanctuary city. The other New York Republican to vote against it was, as noted, Rep. King.
GovTrack.com deemed votes by both King and Donovan as “statistically notable votes,” which it defines as “votes that are most surprising, or least predictable, given how other members of each voter’s party voted and other factors.”
After the vote, Rep. King and Rep. Donovan, who are both members of the House Committee on Homeland Security, issued a joint statement.
“Mayor [Bill] de Blasio’s misguided ‘Sanctuary City’ policies have caused Congress to dangerously overreact and threaten the security of millions of innocent people in the New York-Long Island metropolitan area,” it read. “It’s a cruel irony that security concerns over criminal undocumented immigrants have been given as a rationale for a bill that disembowels the anti-terror apparatus in the world’s top terror target. Cities shouldn’t be able to pick and choose which laws to follow, and there are reasonable consequences that should be considered for those that are unwilling to cooperate with federal authorities. But this bill takes consequences to a dangerous extreme by making New York City ineligible for hundreds of millions of dollars every year that go toward thwarting terror attacks. These dollars have no connection to immigration whatsoever, except for the fact that the NYPD hunts down terror threats and also sometimes arrests illegal aliens.”
Kate’s Law, which passed the house in 2015, is named for Kate Steinle, a San Francisco resident who in June 2015, was the fatal victim of a shooting crime in that city, one allegedly perpetrated by an illegal alien. According to the Republican Party Study Committee, H.R. 3004 would increase jail sentences for deported aliens who have committed either a felony or three or more misdemeanors. Under the bill, any alien who is removed prior to completion of a term of imprisonment who then reenters the U.S. can have the remainder of their sentence reapplied. The suspect in the Steinle case was discovered to have committed up to five illegal crossings. That bill passed the House by a 257-167 vote, with 24 Democrats joining the Republican caucus in voting “yes” and only one Republican voting “no.”
Sarah’s Law, similarly, is named for Sarah Root, a resident of Omaha, NE, who in January 2016, was killed in an automobile accident by a vehicle driven by an illegal immigrant.
According to GovTrack, H.R. 3003 withholds certain federal monies from jurisdictions that violate federal law by prohibiting their officers from cooperating with DHS agents. It also allows victims of certain crimes to sue jurisdictions that refuse to comply and subsequently release criminal aliens onto the streets and ensures that unlawful immigrants convicted of drunk driving or are arrested for other dangerous crimes are detained during their removal proceedings.
According to the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), there are 168 municipalities in the United States are considered sanctuary cities. When the DHS began issuing detainer lists on illegal immigrant criminals, it listed Nassau County as a sanctuary entity. That was proven to be inaccurate and the DHS promptly dropped Nassau from that list.
Both bills go to the United States, where passage is considered unlikely since it would take 60 votes to end a filibuster on such legislation.