WASHINGTON—Republicans introduced legislation Thursday that authorized $15 billion to border security and interior enforcement, including penalties for sanctuary cities.
Republican Senators John Barasso of Wyoming, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, John Cornyn, of Texas, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin introduced this legislation, called the Building America’s Trust Act.
“What this legislation does is it provides a strategic plan—something we haven’t had before. It authorizes more resources at the border. It boosts trade at ports of entry and strengthening enforcement of existing law. The border security provision focuses on three areas. Additional infrastructure like a wall system—fencing or levies. One of the things I point out to people is the idea of a physical infrastructure is not a new concept,” Cornyn said.
Cornyn went on to say the bill ends the catch and release policy of the previous administration and includes such immigration policy as “Kate’s Law,” while also holding sanctuary cities accountable. This would include withholding federal funds from such municipalities.
When asked by a reporter how he would define a sanctuary city, Cornyn replied, “Well my definition of a sanctuary city is a city that does not cooperate with federal law enforcement authorities. We’re not asking the local authorities to take over this job. It’s unfortunate that the federal government has not lived up to its part of the bargain… I don’t believe we should commandeer local and state law enforcement authorities.”
Cornyn added, “But we state very clearly that it is a responsibility of every state and every citizen to cooperate with law enforcement and that’s what we’re demanding. And if they don’t, this has provisions in place that will withhold federal funds, not for law enforcement.”
With the inclusion of Kate’s Law, the new legislation gives the Department of Homeland Security the ability to lock up aggravated felons who repeatedly enter the country illegally. Additionally, measures such as banning terrorists and other potential national security threats are included.
Cornyn also said the bill provided for “faster and more efficient ports of entry so that trade can continue to flourish. If you think about it, if you’re talking about controlling the borders Facilitating the free flow of lawful commerce is important, so then you can focus on problems that exist through illegality.”
The bill also deals with unaccompanied minors who illegally cross the border. The introduced legislation requires that they be screened by an immigration judge to decide if they have a legal claim to stay in the U.S. or are to be returned to their country of origin.
Visa overstays are also addressed through a full deployment of the Biometric Entry-Exit system at U.S. ports of entry and enhanced background checks of individuals looking to enter the U.S. from foreign countries.