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Toomey Introduces Bill to End Dangerous Sanctuary City Policies

May 23, 2019
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Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) is continuing his longstanding effort to protect our communities from violent criminals who are in the United States illegally.

Today, Senator Toomey re-introduced the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act, which would put an end to dangerous sanctuary city policies that forbid local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration authorities, even when they wish to do so.

"It is past time to put an end to dangerous sanctuary city policies," said Senator Toomey. "These policies - like the ones in Philadelphia and San Francisco - make it harder to stop illegal immigration and keep dangerous criminals off the streets. Sanctuary cities extend a special protection to illegal immigrants even when federal immigration officials identify them as a threat to public safety. This is simply inexcusable, and I urge my colleagues to help pass this commonsense measure."

Joining Senator Toomey in introducing the bill were Senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and John Kennedy (R-La.).

"Sanctuary cities keep criminal aliens on our streets, and we will no longer tolerate their willful defiance of our nation's laws," said Senator Cotton. "Public safety must come first. If you're not following the law, you shouldn't get taxpayer dollars, period."

"Sanctuary cities like San Francisco, Seattle and New York happily accept federal money, but they are just as eager to ignore our nation's immigration laws," said Senator Kennedy. "These liberal cities actively impede federal immigration enforcement efforts, which only encourages more illegal immigration. I'm a proud co-sponsor of the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act because it sends a clear message to these cities that if they choose to ignore the rule of law, they don't deserve hard-earned taxpayer dollars."

The Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act is also cosponsored by Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).

Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Tom McClintock (R-Cali.).

Background

The Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act would withhold certain non-law enforcement federal grant funds from "sanctuary cities" - jurisdictions that forbid their local law enforcement officers from cooperating with federal immigration officials, even when they wish to do so.

The legislation also addresses court decisions that may leave local police and municipalities liable when they assist the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) but the DHS has made an error. The measure preserves an individual's right to sue if a law enforcement officer commits any violation of the individual's civil or constitutional rights. However, his measure ensures that if the federal government committed the error or violated a right, the individual sues the federal government, not a local official acting in good faith and in compliance with a request from the DHS. The legislation also provides a safe harbor for jurisdictions that do not cooperate with federal immigration officials with regard to persons in the country illegally who come forward as victims or witnesses to a crime.

In 2016, Philadelphia police arrested Juan Ramon Vasquez (also known as Ramon Aguirre-Ochoa), a Honduran national in the U.S. illegally, for repeatedly raping his girlfriend's 5 year old daughter. He is now serving an eight to 20 year sentence for those heinous crimes. Vasquez had been deported in 2009, only to re-enter the U.S. illegally. Philadelphia police had Vasquez in custody in 2015. But when DHS asked the city to hold him so it could come pick him up and deport him, Philadelphia officials refused. The city's sanctuary city policy forbade its law enforcement officers from cooperating with federal immigration authorities. Instead, Vasquez was permitted to roam free and eventually raped a young child.

In February 2018, a bipartisan majority of senators voted in support of the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act, but it did not receive the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. Democratic senators who voted to support this measure included Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).

The legislation is supported by:

 

  • Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association
  • International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO
  • National Association of Police Organizations