Feinstein Under Fire From Immigration Advocates


For immigration advocates rushing to beat back congressional momentum to crack down on so-called “sanctuary cities,” their chief worry isn’t the Republicans who control Capitol Hill.

It’s Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

The California liberal with a tough-on-crime streak is stirring deep anxiety among immigration activists ever since she said she would write a bill that would force localities to comply with federal immigration requests — prompted by the death of a San Francisco woman, allegedly at the hands of an immigrant here illegally.

Activists, particularly from Feinstein’s home state, have launched protests at her congressional office, demanding that she stop writing legislation they’ve branded as anti-immigrant. More than 50 organizations have written a letter to Feinstein and fellow California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, warning against measures the groups worry would provoke fear within immigrant communities.

And some advocates have even pulled out unflattering comparisons of Feinstein to presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has skyrocketed to the top of national GOP polls with his controversial comments labeling immigrants from Mexico as rapists and drug dealers.

“Feinstein’s bill is trying to get us to the point where we continue to generate fear at the local level,” said Cristina Jimenez, managing director of United We Dream, an immigration advocacy group. “She is basically … joining the Donald Trump bandwagon.”

The furor against Feinstein began to bubble in mid-July, soon after she and Boxer disclosed that they may write legislation in the aftermath of the July 1 shooting death of Kathryn Steinle on a popular San Francisco pier. The suspect in the killing, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, had been in the United States illegally and had previously been deported to his native Mexico multiple times.

The national outrage over Steinle’s death has roiled the politics of immigration, particularly on the 2016 campaign trail, where Trump and other GOP presidential hopefuls have seized on it to call for tougher immigration enforcement. On Capitol Hill, House Republicans passed a bill last month punishing sanctuary cities, and Steinle’s father, Jim, has delivered two emotional testimonies urging Congress to act.

Despite the uproar, immigration advocates and some Democratic lawmakers are trying to push back against any new federal legislation in response to Steinle’s death, arguing that punitive sanctuary-cities bills could further isolate immigrant communities.

What Feinstein is contemplating is nowhere near as aggressive as the GOP’s proposals. But the advocates’ concern is that the bill, with the stamp of approval from a powerful Democrat, would be a slippery slope and give an enforcement-only strategy on immigration a bipartisan veneer.

Read the rest of the story: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/08/feinstein-under-fire-from-immigration-advocates-120911.html#ixzz3i4m8muD9

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