Congressman Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, on Wednesday called on Congress to halt funding for so-called “sanctuary cities” where local authorities don’t prosecute people in the country illegally as a violation of federal immigration law.
While the term is vague, sanctuary cities either don’t allow police or government employees to inquire about a person's immigration status or they aren’t allowed to notify immigration and customs officials about the immigration status of people they encounter while on duty.
In some sanctuary cities, local police won’t comply with federal requests to detain inmates beyond their scheduled release dates for possible immigration violations.
Following the election of President-elect Donald Trump, officials in Washington, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Minneapolis and other cities have reaffirmed their commitment to remain sanctuary cities.
The president-elect has vowed to cut federal funding to those cities as one of his first official actions following his Jan. 20 inauguration.
Buchanan voiced his support for a bill that does just that, and another that would stiffen penalties for some people in the country illegally.
The “Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act” cuts federal funding for communities that block local police from cooperating with federal immigration officers.
“Washington needs to send a clear message to sanctuary cities: If you don’t follow the laws, you don’t get federal funding,” Buchanan said in a statement. “It is dangerous and unconscionable that so many cities across the country blatantly ignore the rule of law and still get rewarded with taxpayer dollars.”
“Katie’s Law” imposes a mandatory five-year sentence for any illegal immigrant who re-enters the country illegally after previously being deported. The law is named for Kate Steinle, who was killed by a person in the country illegally who had been deported five times and convicted of seven felonies.
“Congress must act to protect Americans from criminals and make every state and city across the country enforce the laws on the books,” Buchanan’s statement said.