WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) continued his fight to protect our communities from violent criminals and suspected terrorists who are in the U.S. illegally by re-introducing his Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act.
Sen. Toomey's legislation addresses the problem of dangerous "sanctuary cities" -- jurisdictions that forbid their local law enforcement officers from cooperating with federal immigration officials.
Too often, local police want to work with federal officers to take dangerous criminals and suspected terrorists off the streets, but are forbidden from doing so by local politicians who impose sanctuary city policies.
We have seen the dangers imposed by such policies. Philadelphia's sanctuary city policy has led to the release of at least three illegal immigrants charged with child rape. And 18 months ago, we saw 32-year-old Kate Steinle pay the ultimate price for San Francisco's sanctuary city policy.
The Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act is identical to the legislation Sen. Toomey introduced in 2016 that received majority, bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate. The legislation withholds certain federal funds from sanctuary cities. These jurisdictions impose terrible costs on Americans, and federal taxpayers should not be subsidizing them. Withholding funds will hopefully encourage many jurisdictions to change their policies.
The Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act also addresses recent court decisions that may leave local police liable for errors by the Department of Homeland Security. Sen. Toomey's legislation preserves an individual's right to sue if a law enforcement officer commits any violation of the individual's civil or constitutional rights. His bill 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 Department of Homeland Security.
Leaders from across the political spectrum agree that sanctuary cities pose a serious threat. President Obama's Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, opposes sanctuary city policies. Ed Rendell, former Governor of Pennsylvania and lifelong Democrat, has also criticized Philadelphia's sanctuary city policy.
"It is past time for Congress to act to end dangerous sanctuary city policies. Sanctuary cities not only make it harder to stop illegal immigration and keep dangerous criminals off the streets, but they also undermine our anti-terrorism efforts," said Sen. Toomey. "Sanctuary cities refuse to cooperate with the federal government in locating violent criminals and suspected terrorists who are in their custody and are in the country illegally. This refusal is simply inexcusable, especially in light of recent news indicating that at least three child rapists have been released onto Philadelphia's streets due to the city's sanctuary city policy.
"I am delighted that my House colleague, Congressman Diane Black (R- Tenn.) has joined me in this public safety effort and is introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives. I am confident that under her leadership, the House of Representatives will pass this important legislation.
"The safety of the people of Pennsylvania is too important for any more delay. I call on Congress to put public safety first and enact the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act."
Sen. Toomey's legislation is endorsed by four national law enforcement groups-including the National Association of Sheriffs-and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).