Immigration reform news 2015: House passes bill denying funds for sanctuary cities that shelter immigrants

A US flag flies at half staff at the White House in this Sept. 16, 2013 file photo in remembrance of victims of a shooting in the US Navy Yard in Washington.Reuters

The U.S. House of Representatives passed last Thursday a bill that would deny funding for cities that defend illegal immigrant from national authorities, a move that aims to "punish" the cities also called "sanctuary cities," the Wall Street Journal reported.

The 241-179 vote, supported by a majority of Republican officials, is a principal move by the party to show response to the recent murder of a woman from San Francisco, reportedly committed by an immigrant.

San Francisco is considered one of the sanctuary cities where there is no strict monitoring on immigrant status and disclosure of such information to federal authorities, who would carry out the deportation process.

Republicans believe that had there been routine checking for immigrant status, the death of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle could have been prevented. Steinle was reportedly shot by an illegal immigrant, also a convicted felon, who had been deported five times.

It was also reported that the White House said in a statement that the administration would veto the bill since it would threaten civil rights of all the citizens by letting authorities gather information on immigrant status from anyone at any time.

According to the White House, this type of approach would breed mistrust between local communities and law enforcers, Associated Press reported.

Republicans believe that the bill is necessary so that public employees will cooperate with federal immigration officers. On the other hand, Democrats say the measure is anti-immigrant.

Colorado representative Mike Coffman, whose district is composed of nearly 20 percent Hispanic, is in favor of the bill and he said that it should not be seen as "anti-immigrant" or "anti-Hispanic," but rather as "pro-law enforcement."

Members of Republican and Democratic parties discussed the plea from Steinle's family and had significantly different opinions about the problem: Republicans are in favor for stricter law enforcement, while Democrats are urging for an overhaul of the immigration laws.

Steinle's shooting has definitely opened up a new debate about U.S. immigration laws. Although, both parties considered the victim's family's plea, Republicans and Democrats have yet to come up with a common solution to the problem.