The Senate will consider legislation targeting funding for sanctuary cities when it reconvenes the week after next, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced Thursday.
The Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act, introduced by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), will skip the committee process and go directly to the Senate floor. The bill restricts federal funding for sanctuary cities, or jurisdictions that do not comply with federal immigration authorities. It also provides legal protections for localities that do comply with federal immigration law and ups the penalties for illegal re-entry.
Speaking on the Senate floor Thursday afternoon, McConnell encouraged senators heading home next week for the district work period to think about the backward treatment of jurisdictions that cooperate federal immigration authorities and those that do not.
“In a time of limited federal resources and tough choices, is it fair to treat localities that cooperate with law enforcement or work hard to follow federal law no better than localities that refuse to help or actively flout the law?” McConnell asked, rhetorically.
McConnell argued that not only it is unfair to the cities that comply with the laws but it is also unfair to the local law enforcement officials who put themselves in harms way and the victims of illegal immigrant crime.
“[It isn’t fair] to citizens and governments that do the right thing. Not to law-enforcement officers who risk everything for our safety. Not to victims and their families,” McConnell said. “The proponents of so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ seem to callously disregard how their policies can hurt other people. That’s really not right. The bill I just filed cloture on this afternoon aims to ensure more fairness on this issue.”
The legislation to be considered is cosponsored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) as well as Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Ron Johnson (R-WI), John Cornyn (R-TX), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and John Barrasso (R-WY), David Perdue (R-GA), and Dan Sullivan (R-AK).
Earlier Thursday, the Center for Immigration Studies released a report revealing that as of December there are 340 sanctuary jurisdictions. Each month these areas with sanctuary policies have been releasing about 1,000 criminal immigrants wanted for deportation by federal immigration. Many of the released criminal aliens, the report noted, have gone on to commit additional crimes.
The July murder of Kathryn Steinle, allegedly by a five-time deported illegal immigrant with a lengthy rap sheet, brought national attention to sanctuary cities. Local authorities in the sanctuary city of San Francisco had released the shooter, ignoring an immigration detainer on the man, about three months before he killed Steinle.
The House has already passed legislation targeting sanctuary cities. Now that McConnell has filled cloture on Vitter’s bill the Senate will consider it when it reconvenes.