Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says legislation to crack down on illegal immigrants is meeting with opposition in the Republican-dominated Judiciary Committee that Grassley chairs in the U.S. Senate.
As proposed by Grassley, the bill would levy a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for felons who are deported and then return to the country.
Grassley says mandatory minimums have become controversial.
“We have a lot of Democrats and a couple of Republicans don't like the principle of mandatory minimums,” Grassley says. “And that's an issue that doesn't just affect the bill I'm talking about.”
Grassley says the legislation is needed to address violent crimes by immigrants. He cites a recent homicide in San Francisco by an immigrant who had been deported multiple times, as well as other similar killings.
Grassley says views on mandatory minimum sentences are all over the map.
“There are people that want to keep mandatory sentencing the way it is right now,” Grassley says, “people that want to cut it in half, and some who want to get rid of it altogether.”
Grassley’s bill would also penalize so-called sanctuary cities who harbor illegal immigrants by withholding federal funds for law enforcement. Grassley says critics argue those funds are badly needed.
Grassley says so far the Judiciary Committee has not come to agreement on the bill. He says Senate leaders may get tired of waiting, and may take it to the full Senate for a vote.