NumbersUSA says it is opposing the sanctuary city legislation slated for a House vote this week due to the bill’s narrow focus, but supporters argue the legislation is a step in the right direction.
“While we appreciate the intent behind the Hunter sanctuary bill (H.R. 3009), NumbersUSA has no choice but to oppose it,” the limited immigration group said in a statement issued to House members Tuesday, adding the bill does not confront the “largest sanctuary jurisdiction of all: the Federal government.”
The House is expected to vote on Rep. Duncan Hunter’s (R-CA) sanctuary city bill this week. It would block federal law enforcement grants to cites and jurisdictions that do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
Joe Kasper, a Hunter spokesman, explained to Breitbart News that the intent of the legislation is accountability, not enforcement, saying the enforcement aspect is an ongoing debate in Congress.
“This bill was introduced simply as an accountability piece,” Kasper said. “It was intended to impose some consequence on sanctuary cities or any state or subdivision that subverts federal law. But this bill is not an enforcement piece. It was never intended to be an enforcement piece. Those conversations are ongoing in the House.”
The vote comes in the wake the murder of Kathryn Steinle at a San Francisco pier, allegedly by a multiple deportee illegal immigrant with a long rap sheet. The illegal immigrant charged with Steinle’s murder had been released from custody due to the city’s sanctuary policy of not honoring immigration detainers.
According to NumbersUSA, the Hunter bill is “weaker” than an amendment from Rep. Steve King (R-IA) that was adopted on a vote of 227-198 as an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Act in June. The group called the House’s decision to move with the Hunter bill in response to Steinle’s murder “unconscionable” following passage of King’s amendment earlier in the summer.
“The bigger problem, however, is that the Hunter bill does not in any way address the largest sanctuary jurisdiction of all: the Federal government,” NumbersUSA continued. “Sanctuary states, cities, and counties release thousands of convicted criminal aliens each year, but the Department of Homeland Security releases tens of thousands of convicted criminal aliens each year.”
King, meanwhile, in an email to Republican colleagues Tuesday, said he would be voting yes on the Hunter bill, as it “moves the ball in the right direction.”
The Iowa lawmaker noted in his email, however, that in a conversation with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) he said that “A lot of conservatives would be disappointed because we should be doing more” and pointed to his own June amendment and a broader sanctuary city bill he has that eliminates all federal assistance to sanctuary jurisdictions, makes detainers mandatory, and requires DHS to hold criminal immigrants until deportation, among other things.
“Kevin McCarthy expressed commitment to me to bring enforcement immigration legislation to the Floor after August,” King wrote. “I’ll continue to advocate for what we can do that is constructive. And I will keep my commitment to vote yes if they bring the Hunter Bill to the Floor. ”
Kasper, in response to NumbersUSA’s critique, praised its mission but reiterated that the goal of the bill is accountability, getting members on the record, and having the sanctuary debate.
“To have the conversation about the consequences that would be directed toward sanctuary cities is good one to have. The intent behind the bill is to withhold specific, targeted federal funds that sanctuary cities and states both want and need. What is wrong with that? Absolutely nothing,” Kasper said, adding that Hunter is in agreement with the enforcement aspect.
NumbersUSA’s Director of Government Relations Rosemary Jenks told Breitbart that the group has not decided if or how they will score the vote.
“We don’t have a problem with the Hunter bill, per se. Our problem is that it is a totally inadequate response to the problem of criminal aliens being released onto our streets,” Jenks added in an email. “Jurisdictions like San Fran, New Orleans, etc., don’t care about [State Criminal Alien Assistance Program] funding, so the Hunter bill isn’t nearly a big enough stick to get them to change their sanctuary policies. The bigger problem, though, is that the bill does absolutely nothing about the biggest sanctuary jurisdiction of all, the federal government.”