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Texas Cities in Crosshairs as U.S. Senate Votes on Defunding ‘Sanctuary Cities’

The United States Senate will finally vote on a bill defunding sanctuary cities across America and two Texas cities could land right in the crosshairs of this battle. The vote on the “Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act,” (S. 2146) is scheduled for a motion to proceed vote on Tuesday afternoon.

The bill, introduced by Louisiana Senator David Vitter, provides that localities that refuse to turn over illegal aliens to federal law enforcement agencies will lose federal funding. The vote on Tuesday is a procedural vote. If 60 senators approve, the bill will move forward.

“Sanctuary cities and the associated violent crimes by illegal immigrants are reaching a critical point, and we cannot wait any longer to take action to protect Americans here at home,” Sen. Vitter wrote in a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas. “There is simply no incentive for these localities to enforce current immigration laws, and my legislation will make sure sanctuary cities are no longer rewarded for their failures to uphold the law. As the Senate debates the Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act, I urge my colleagues to remember Kate Steinle’s vicious murder and the tens of thousands of crimes committed by illegal immigrants within our borders.”

Breitbart Texas reported earlier this month on actions taken by Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, and Austin’s Mayor and County Judge, to increase their positions as sanctuary cities in Texas. Sheriff Valdez announced she would ease back on immigration holds on jailed immigrants and consider turning over illegal aliens to immigrations officials only on a case-by-case basis. Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt met with amnesty activists in Austin to push for an end to Texas’ lawsuit against the Obama Administration over its executive amnesty program that would allow up to five million illegal aliens to remain in the United States without fear of deportation.

Cities like Austin and Dallas create a “pull” force, which increases the numbers of illegal aliens who cross the borders knowing of an oasis in the desert. Knowing there are cities in Texas where these people can “hide in plain sight” creates the magnet of hope for many who might not otherwise attempt the life-threatening journey across South Texas.

The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) does not appear optimistic about the bill’s chances for passage. “There is no effort on the part of Republicans to push this bill. There is no push from Republican leaders, and there is no media campaign,” Jessica Vaughan, Director of Policy Studies at CIS in Washington, D.C. told Breitbart Texas’ Lana Shadwick in response to an inquiry. “To me, it shows a lack of commitment by Mitch McConnell. Without this legislation, the number of sanctuary cities are going to go up.”

Democrats will attempt to keep Republicans from getting the 60 votes needed to move the bill forward. Senate Minority Leader, Sen. Harry Reid, said in a Senate floor speech on Monday, “This vile legislation might as well be called ‘The Donald Trump Act.”

“Like the disgusting and outrageous language championed by Donald Trump, this legislation paints all immigrants as criminals and rapists,” Reid continued. The bill does noting of the sort. Rather, the bill simply punishes cities and counties that refuse to turn over criminal illegal aliens who are in jail for offenses committed after entering the country illegally. It does not paint all immigrants as “criminals and rapists,” it paints criminals and rapists as “criminals and rapists.”

Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz are listed as original sponsors of the bill. “In light of the threat criminal aliens pose to the safety and security of our communities, we can no longer allow states and municipalities to take federal taxpayer money while turning a blind eye to the illegal aliens in their midst. What happened to Kate Steinle is heartbreaking,” said Senator Cruz in a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas. “And the heartbreak is even more tragic given the circumstances. Clearly, our laws are not adequately deterring those who have already been deported from illegally reentering the country. I’m proud to join with my colleagues in sending the message that defiance of our nation’s laws will no longer be tolerated. Of course, stiff penalties alone will not suffice. Congress must hold this Administration accountable for its failure-if not its outright refusal-to enforce federal immigration laws and ensure the safety and protection of the American people.”

In efforts to curb formation and continuation of sanctuary cities, Sen. Vitter wrote, this legislation:

  • Defines a sanctuary jurisdiction as a state or locality that prohibits its law enforcement officers from cooperating with federal immigration officials, even if they wish to do so;
  • Provides transparency by requiring DHS to publicly list which jurisdictions are deemed sanctuary jurisdictions;
  • Withholds certain federal funds and grants from sanctuary jurisdictions;
  • Requires that those withheld funds are re-allocated and made available to other state and localities jurisdictions that allow their local law enforcement to cooperate with federal officials;
  • Confirms that local law enforcement have the legal authority to cooperate with federal immigration officials if they wish, while protecting individuals’ civil rights and preserving individuals’ ability to sue for violations of civil and constitutional rights.
  • Kate’s Law: Establishes a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years for illegal immigrants who are convicted of re-entering the U.S. after being convicted of an aggravated felony or being convicted of having illegally re-entered the U.S. twice prior.

Senator Vitter serves as chairman of the Senate Border Security Caucus. He has introduced bills to defund sanctuary cities every year since 2008, according to the press release. He offers the following information in support of why this bill is necessary:

According to an updated report prepared by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for Congress, between January 1 and September 30, 2014, local sanctuary cities released 9,295 alien offenders that ICE was seeking to deport. As of last year, 6,460 (69 percent) were still at large. Of those still at large, 1,377 (20 percent) had another criminal arrest following the one that resulted in the ICE detainer. Of the 6,460 criminal aliens who were still at-large during the time period studied, 3,802 (58 percent) had prior felonies or violent misdemeanors.

Currently, there are approximately 170,000 convicted criminal aliens who have been ordered to be deported, but remain at large in the United States. At least 340 cities currently provide safe-haven as sanctuary cities.

Other co-sponsors of the bill include: Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), and John Thune (R-S.D.).

Lana Shadwick contributed to this article. Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. Follow her on Twitter@LanaShadwick2

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and is a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX

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