WASHINGTON — Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Lou Barletta on Thursday introduced the Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Act (H.R. 83), a bill intended to halt all federal funds going to states or localities that defy enforcement of federal immigration laws.
The bill is the first piece of legislation introduced by Barletta in the 115th Congress and is the third time the congressman has introduced the provision — introducing it in 2011 during his freshman year in Congress and again in 2015. The last time it was introduced, the legislation had 24 co-sponsors.
However, Barletta previously introduced his bill during periods when the chances of passage was low given the makeup of the Senate and the President Obama’s veto pen. Now Barletta’s legislation has better chances given that President-elect Donald Trump has supported the idea of defunding sanctuary cities as a punishment for violating federal immigration law. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: GOP Congressmen Support Cutting Off Federal Funds For ‘Sanctuary Campuses’)
“One of the principal duties of the government is to protect its citizens, and the idea of sanctuary cities runs completely counter to that responsibility,” Barletta said in a statement. “Too many mayors and local governments think that they are above federal law and place their own ideology ahead of the safety of their residents. This bill will stop that practice by saying to these sanctuary cities, ‘If you refuse to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement, you will lose your federal funding.’”
The Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Act bans any federal funding for a minimum period of one year to any state or local government, which has a policy or law that obstructs them from aiding immigration authorities in enforcing federal immigration law.
According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), about 300 such localities in the United States are considered sanctuary cities. Barletta’s bill instructs the attorney general to compile an annual list of these cities and issue a report on any particular state or locality upon request from a member of Congress.
A state or local government could only reclaim federal funding eligibility after the attorney general certifies that its laws and policies are in compliance with federal immigration statutes.
Sanctuary cities are raising legal funds to fight the Trump administration and say they are prepared to resist any legislative actions that work counter to their current conduct on deportations of illegal aliens.