Rubio’s Gang of Eight Bill Would Have Rewarded Sanctuary Cities Harboring Illegals

Francisco Sanchez (Patch / SFPD)
Patch / SFPD

In the wake of yet another murder of an American at the hands of an illegal immigrant, it’s worth revisiting the immigration bill put forth in part by GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio, which offered rewards for sanctuary cities.

Juan-Francisco Lopez Sanchez, a felon with multiple convictions and five deportations under his belt, admitted to shooting Kathryn Steinle dead at Pier 14 in San Francisco and says he came to work in that city because he knew that he would not be deported, crimes and illegal status notwithstanding.

Had the Gang of Eight measure become law, not only would it have allowed sanctuary cities to continue to refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities, it would have stopped ICE from pushing to strip federal funds from sanctuary cities that defied them by releasing aliens back onto the streets, thanks to an amendment added by California Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

“The bill would have made it much harder for ICE to detain even criminal alien felons, meaning that most would simply disappear into the wind if arrested, and settle in different locations, especially sanctuary cities, as Sanchez said was his intention,” Director of Policy Studies for the Center for Immigration Studies Jessica Vaughan told Breitbart News. “Sanchez probably would have been entitled to a taxpayer-funded immigration attorney under the Schumer-Rubio plan, who might have found a way to get him amnesty, perhaps by claiming a mental disability.”

“The biggest problem with the Schumer-Rubio bill is that it failed to restore immigration enforcement and boost border security, so even if Sanchez were deported, he likely would have tried to return, and the same employers who offered him jobs in San Francisco could feel free to do so again without repercussion,” Vaughan added. 

The San Francisco’s Sheriff’s office defended its decision to allow Sanchez to stalk the streets, saying the policy “makes us safer.” This same office received hundreds of thousands of dollars in what could now be considered blood money thanks to the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP), meant to offset the cost of jailing illegal aliens in theory and all but guaranteeing they will be released in practice.

State and local governments already make millions of dollars by obstructing federal immigration law, in part by choking off access to aliens ripe for deportation. Rubio’s amended bill would have rewarded them all the more, according to immigration expert Jessica Vaughan. Had Gang of Eight become law, Sanchez would have been just as free to roam from sanctuary city to sanctuary city, all of which would be flush with SCAAP cash.

As conservative author Ann Coulter has remarked: “I have a little tip. If you don’t want to be killed by ISIS, don’t go to Syria. If you don’t want to be killed by a Mexican, there’s nothing I can tell you.”

Law enforcement officials condemned the amended bill in 2013 for encouraging more crime and lawlessness.

“The amended 1,200-page immigration bill, if passed, will exacerbate USCIS concerns about threats to national security and public safety,” said USCIS Council President Ken Palinkas about the amended bill in 2013.  “It will allow immigrants to break the law in the future and still be eligible for citizenship, as it absolves prospective behavior, not simply past mistakes…It will wipe away the enforcement process that compels law breakers who overstay their visas to return to their home country and restart the immigration process.”

ICE Council President Chris Krane has a number of harsh criticisms of the bill.

“[T]hese are not reforms at all, but instead provisions written by special interest groups concerned only with their own political agendas and future financial gains… S. 744 places unprecedented new restrictions on interior enforcement, making the current situation much worse and much more hazardous,” he said, hammering the Gang of Eight for permitting the legalization of gang members, drunk drivers, and sex offenders. “It is as if S. 744 were explicitly written to handcuff law enforcement officers-binding their hands while giving virtually unchecked authority to executive branch officials to prevent future removals, including removals of criminal aliens.”

ICE also issued a joint statement with USCIS: 

The Schumer-Rubio-Corker-Hoeven proposal will make Americans less safe and it will ensure more illegal immigration — especially visa overstays — in the future. It provides legalization for thousands of dangerous criminals while making it more difficult for our officers to identity public safety and national security threats,” the statement reads in part. “The legislation was guided from the beginning by anti-enforcement special interests and, should it become law, will have the desired effect of these groups: blocking immigration enforcement.

While Rubio’s bill ultimately failed — and President Obama picked up where it left off — law enforcement’s warnings are painfully pertinent after Steinle’s murder. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time, as the media like to say: In a country where both parties fight to dismantle all immigration enforcement.

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