Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Senate was unable to muster 60 votes to move forward on Senator Pat Toomey's (R-Pa.) bill to protect our communities from violent criminals and suspected terrorists who are in the U.S. illegally.
"Despite the support of a bipartisan majority, the Senate has once again failed to act on a critical public safety issue," Sen. Toomey said. "Sanctuary cities are Orwellian in their logic -- they give extra protection to dangerous criminals, just because they happen to be in the country illegally. This is a dangerous injustice that must be stopped, and I will continue to fight it."
Sen. Toomey's Stop Dangerous Sanctuary City Policies Act would withhold certain federal funds from sanctuary cities-jurisdictions that forbid their law enforcement officers from cooperating with federal immigration officials.
The Toomey bill also addresses federal court decisions-including one by the Third Circuit, which governs Pennsylvania-that may leave local police liable for errors by the Department of Homeland Security. Two federal courts have held that if the Department of Homeland Security makes an error-for example, asks local law enforcement to hold someone who is in the U.S. legally, and local law enforcement in good faith complies with the request, local law enforcement can be held liable for the federal government's error.
Sen. Toomey's legislation preserves an individual's right to sue if a law enforcement officer commits any violations of the individual's civil or constitutional rights. The bill simply provides that if the federal government committed an error or violated a right, the individual shall sue the federal government, not a local official acting in good-faith compliance with a request from the Department of Homeland Security.
Leaders from both political parties have recognized the dangers of sanctuary cities. President Obama's Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, has called sanctuary cities "counterproductive" and "not acceptable." Former Governor and lifelong Democrat Ed Rendell criticized Philadelphia's sanctuary city policy. And Pennsylvania law enforcement officers and prosecutors from across the political spectrum have called for an end to sanctuary city policies.
The below organizations endorsed Sen. Toomey's bill.
• Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association
• National Sheriffs' Association
• National Association of Police Organizations
• International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO
• Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)