The Senate will vote on whether to begin debate on a Republican bill that would crack down on so-called "sanctuary cities," localities that refuse to turn over to federal law enforcement immigrants who are in the country illegally so they can be deported.
Democrats are expected to block the measure from getting the 60 votes it would need to move forward, according to leadership aides in each party.
"This vile legislation might as well be called 'The Donald Trump Act,'" Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said in a floor speech Monday. "Like the disgusting and outrageous language championed by Donald Trump, this legislation paints all immigrants as criminals and rapists."
The subject gained national attention in July when 32-year-old Kate Steinle was murdered in San Francisco by an illegal immigrant. Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez had been deported five times and previously convicted of seven other felonies but was released by San Francisco authorities after drug charges were dropped. The release came despite a request form U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for Lopez-Sanchez to be detained.
Donald Trump, the GOP presidential front-runner, seized on the issue shortly after the crime occurred.
"This senseless and totally preventable act of violence committed by an illegal immigrant is yet another example of why we must secure our border immediately," Trump had said. "This is an absolutely disgraceful situation and I am the only one that can fix it. Nobody else has the guts to even talk about it. That won't happen if I become president."
Steinle's brother complained at the time to CNN that Trump was politicizing his sister's death.
The Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act was written by Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, and is backed by GOP presidential candidates Sen. Ted. Cruz of Texas and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. It would block some federal funds to cities that don't cooperate with federal immigration authorities. It would also require a five-year minimum sentence for a person convicted of an aggravated felony who then re-enters the U.S. illegally.
The Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said the bill would put an end to immigration policies that "are all serious threats to public safety."
"For too long we have sat by while sanctuary jurisdictions release dangerous criminals into the community to harm our citizens. It's time we put an end to it," said Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa. "I hope all my colleagues will support this bill, and vote to proceed to it tomorrow."
A similar bill passed the House earlier this year and the White House issued a veto threat against it.