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The House of Representatives passed two immigration-related bills on Thursday that aim to curb unauthorized immigration through tougher penalties and by putting financial pressure on local police departments.

The bills passed largely on party lines, including among San Diego House members.


Both pieces of legislation are in line with promises that President Donald Trump made on the campaign trail and are now headed to the Senate where they’ll need 60 votes to pass. That will require significant Democratic support, which is unlikely.

One of the bills, the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, passed the House 228-195 with support from three Democrats and opposition from seven Republicans. The bill denies some federal grant funding to state and local governments with policies that prevent local law enforcement from investigating anyone’s immigration status.

It also sets standards for when federal immigration officers can take immigrants from local jails into their custody.

The other bill, Kate’s Law, 257-167 with support from 24 Democrats, and opposition from one Republican, and places greater penalties on immigrants who re-enter the United States after previously being deported. The legislation is named after Kate Steinle, a woman who was fatally shot in San Francisco in 2015. The suspect, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, had been deported several times but repeatedly re-entered the U.S.

Members of San Diego’s House delegation voted along party lines on both bills.

“Unfortunately, California has chosen to go down a path of seeking to ignore federal law, which I fear would further endanger law-abiding citizens like Kate,” Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista said. “Passing these bills will help prevent future tragedies and take an important step in making our communities safer.”

He said that Steinle needlessly died, and that sanctuary policies send a message that immigration laws can be ignored.

Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, said the bills would hurt local law enforcement and undermine San Diego’s community policing strategy. The department’s programs depend on trust and positive rapport between police officers and the communities they serve.

“This would have a chilling effect on how victims and witnesses from immigrant communities in San Diego cooperate with law enforcement, which is a hindrance to stopping crime and threatens public safety,” Peters said.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and police Chief Shelly Zimmerman both have said officers should not enforce federal immigration laws. Doing so, they said, would make immigrants likely to report crimes when they are victims, or to speak up as witnesses.

And the laws vilify immigrants and make communities more dangerous, Rep. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego said.

These bills do not make our country any safer. Instead, they demonize immigrant communities, undermine public safety, and fuel President Trump's mass deportation force. We cannot allow the Trump Administration to continue scapegoating immigrants,” he said. He took particular offense that the bill passed at the end of Immigrant Heritage Month.

Rep. Susan Davis, D-San Diego, said the bills are the wrong approach to addressing unauthorized immigration.

“The anti-immigrant bills in the House today will only stoke fear in our communities. Instead of stripping federal funds from local law enforcement, we should be passing comprehensive immigration reform. That’s the only way we are going prevent illegal immigration,” she said.

The office of Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, did not respond to request for comment.