Republican Rep. Robert Pittenger of North Carolina introduced a bill Tuesday that would defund sanctuary cities and use that money to put towards the construction of a border wall along the southern U.S.-Mexico border.
The bill, called the “Make Sanctuary Cities Pay for the Wall Act,” would withhold federal grants and funds from sanctuary cities, returning those funds instead to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for the specific purpose of building President Donald Trump’s long-promised border wall.
“The Secretary of Homeland Security shall establish an account within the Department of Homeland Security from which he may expend funds for the planning, design and construction of a border barrier between the United States and Mexico,” the bill states.
Additionally, the bill allows the DHS secretary to refuse a transfer of an illegal alien the agency has in custody to a sanctuary jurisdiction. While the secretary is not currently legally obligated to accept a transfer request, immigration authorities will often transfer criminal aliens to local custody for prosecution on local or state charges.
It isn’t entirely clear how much new authority Pittenger’s bill would give DHS. For example, The Daily Caller News Foundation reported in late March that border patrol agents in California were refusing to turn over illegal immigrants with felony warrants to police because they were unsure if local authorities would turn them back in to federal custody.
“Sanctuary cities blatantly subvert the rule of law, incentivize further illegal immigration and endanger law-abiding citizens. All the while, criminals and drugs flow across our porous southern border, bringing violence and crime into our towns and communities,” Pittenger said in a statement. “This poses a critical threat to public safety and America’s national security as we know that Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations are actively operating in Latin America. Enough is enough.”
Pittenger argues that his bill kills two birds with one stone, accomplishing two national security goals in one bill.
The bill defines a sanctuary city as any state or political subdivision of a state that has in effect a statute, ordinance, policy, or practice that prohibits or restricts any government entity or official from:
- Sending, receiving, maintaining, or exchanging with any Federal, State, or local governments entity information regarding the citizenship or immigration status (lawful or unlawful) of any individual
- Complying with a request lawfully made by DHS to comply with a detainer for, or notify about the release of an individual
The government shelled out roughly $27 billion in federal grants to sanctuary cities in 2016 alone, according to American Transparency. The White House asked for roughly $25 billion in early February for the construction of a border wall.
The math shows that Pittenger’s bill would provide more than the necessary amount of funds the White House believes they need to build the border wall.
The White House offered congressional Democrats in January a legal pathway to citizenship for roughly 1.8 million young illegal immigrants known as DREAMers.
House and Senate Republicans were willing to grant legal protections for the 620,000-800,000 DREAMers but did not want to give away to chain migration demands — allowing members of an illegal immigrant’s family a pathway to citizenship or preferential immigration status.
Democrats reportedly offered the administration $25 billion but balked after the administration asked for additional safeguards and cuts to legal and illegal immigration.
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