A Republican congressman plans to introduce a bill Monday that would threaten huge fines and prison time for elected officials accused of sheltering illegal immigrant criminals from deportation, in the wake of the not-guilty verdict in the Kate Steinle murder trial.
Indiana Rep. Todd Rokita’s bill is one of the most aggressive pieces of legislation to date aimed at sanctuary city policies, going beyond the Justice Department’s threat to cut off grants to those jurisdictions. “Politicians don’t get to pick and choose what laws to comply with,” Rokita told Fox News. “Americans are dying because politicians sworn to uphold the law refuse to do so.”
His “Stopping Lawless Actions of Politicians (SLAP) Act” would hold state and local lawmakers criminally responsible for refusing to comply with federal immigration enforcement efforts. The Republican’s bill would subject violators to a $1 million fine and up to five years in prison if they are convicted. “It’s time the federal government gets serious about enforcing immigration laws and holding politicians accountable who conspire to break them,” said Rokita.
Rokita also supported “Kate’s Law” – legislation that would boost penalties for illegal immigrants who were previously deported and that was named after Steinle. On Thursday, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, an illegal immigrant who already had been deported back to Mexico five times, was acquitted in the 2015 murder of Steinle on a San Francisco pier.
Zarate’s attorneys argued Zarate had found a gun that accidentally discharged, and the bullet ricocheted off the ground before hitting Steinle. Prosecutors argued Zarate intentionally shot 32-year-old Steinle. The killing revived a national debate over sanctuary city policies, as some lawmakers as well as Steinle’s family faulted San Francisco for releasing the suspect from a local jail without notifying federal immigration officials.
President Trump, who frequently cited Steinle’s case on the campaign trail, called the not-guilty verdict “disgraceful” and a “complete travesty of justice.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions took direct aim at the city, saying San Francisco’s “decision to protect criminal aliens led to the preventable and heartbreaking death of Kate Steinle.” In an interview prior to Thursday’s verdict, Steinle’s family said they wanted the case out of the national spotlight. “We just want to get this over with and move on with our lives, and think about Kate on our terms,” Jim Steinle, Kate’s father, told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Following the verdict, he said his family was shocked Zarate was convicted only of firearm possession. On Friday, the DOJ released an amended arrest warrant for Zarate for a supervised release violation.
Rokita’s bill follows a similar attempt in Texas to punish local officials who ignore federal requests to hold and then potentially turn over suspects for possible deportation. That law is the subject of a federal court challenge.