Sanctuary Cities In Crosshairs Of Capitol Hill Lawmakers

Kerry Picket Political Reporter
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WASHINGTON–A handful of bills from Capitol Hill targeting the more than 200 sanctuary cities were proposed by at least three different GOP members in both chambers, but some wonder if passing such laws would solve anything.

Unless laws at the federal level are enforced, Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Lou Barletta says he is doubtful legislation holding sanctuary cities accountable for not cooperating with federal authorities on alien detainers will be effective.

“There’s not a will here in Congress to deal with it. There’s a lot of talk and we’ll see a lot of new laws introduced. We don’t need to be introducing law after law after law,” Barletta told The Daily Caller. “We need to begin to enforce laws that we already have and that’s what my bill will do. It will punish mayors who decide that they will not enforce federal laws that are already on the books.”

Texas Republican Rep. Louis Gohmert agrees, telling The DC, “Back when I came in ’05 and now, we had leaders who were not interested [in the sanctuary city issue].  When the federal government doesn’t even comply with the law, then it’s kind of tough to make cities comply with the same law.”

Gohmert added, “Right now, how can we come down on sanctuary cities, when this administration is granting amnesty and just violating the law with impunity. So I can understand that somebody is a leader in a city. They see how the president thumbs his nose at the law. The Department of Justice disregards the law so naturally the attitude of the city is, ‘why should we if they don’t?’”

California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr. dropped a bill titled Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act would deny “State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) funding to any state or political subdivision that has in place any law, policy or procedure in contravention of federal immigration law.”

Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton introduced similar legislation that would make any city that refuses to cooperate with federal immigration policies “ineligible for federal immigration and law enforcement grants.”

Although Barletta is skeptical about Congress’s will to deal with the sanctuary city issue, it has not stopped him from resubmitting his own bill that goes after sanctuary cities that fail to honor requests from federal authorities.

Barletta submitted the Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Act in 2011, but the bill died in committee soon after he proposed it. It would bar a state or local government from receiving federal financial assistance for a minimum of one year if the jurisdiction does not cooperate with federal authorities if they do not maintain, exchange or share an individual’s citizenship status.

As Mayor of Hazelton, Penn., Barletta faced off with amnesty activists almost a decade ago, when the small city passed a law that would impose $1,000 fines on to landlords who rented space to illegal immigrants as well as denied business permits to companies that gave them jobs. Additionally, the city made its official language English. Needless to say, the ACLU and the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund among others filed a lawsuit against the city.

According to Barletta, his stance on illegal immigration happened as a result of learning about those who were killed by illegal immigrants.

“I brought this issue up in 2006 when I was mayor of Hazelton. The breaking point for me was the death of Derek Kishline. A 29 year old man with 3 children was shot and killed by Pedro Cabrera, who had already been arrested 6 times,” he said.

“Prior to coming to Hazelton he was arrested in New York—another sanctuary city. I was being sued as mayor for wanting to enforce federal laws, but mayors around the country ignored federal laws. Nothing was being done. I talk about abut Derrick Kishline and having compassion for the victims, because often when people talk about illegal immigration, it’s about the person that came here to taker care of their family. It’s always about the illegal alien. It’s never about the victims,” he recalled, noting a couple that came to him about their slain 20-year daughter Carly Snyder.

Snyder was stabbed 37 times by Fredil Omar Rodriquez-Fuentes–a next-door neighbor and illegal alien from Honduras. Fuentes was arrested and released in Houston only to travel to Pennsylvania later. According to reports at the time, Rodriquez-Fuentes left the murder weapon in Snyder’s back when he left her to die.

Barletta asked, “This administration has released 30,000 criminal aliens on to the streets of America. They have committed 175 murders, rapes. If we can’t deport criminal aliens, how are we to believe that more laws are somehow going to fix this problem?”

Just recently, 32-year-old Kate Steinle was allegedly shot and killed by illegal alien and felon Francisco Sanchez-Lopez. Steinle died in her father’s arms at 14 in San Francisco. Her funeral is Friday.