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Departments of Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


DEPARTMENTS OF COMMERCE, JUSTICE, SCIENCE, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2008 -- (Senate - October 15, 2007)

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Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, this is amendment No. 3277, and it is very simple and straightforward and, I believe, very needed. The amendment would simply prohibit COPS funding, which is governed under this bill, from going to so-called sanctuary cities. In doing so, it would do nothing more than to enforce current Federal law.

Mr. President, as you know, in 1996, Congress passed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. In that 1996 legislation, which is current law, there is a very clear section on sanctuary city policy. It is section 642(a), and it states in clear unmistakable terms:

Federal, State or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.

Mr. President, the idea behind that policy is very simple. Law enforcement around the country should be free to cooperate with Federal authorities regarding immigration, regarding immigration enforcement, and no State or local government should be able to contradict Federal law by establishing a State or local law which bars this sort of commonsense cooperation. Unfortunately, that is exactly what several local jurisdictions and at least two States on a statewide basis have done. They have established, by State law, by local law, by local ordinance, so-called sanctuary policies absolutely prohibiting law enforcement and other public personnel in their jurisdiction from working with or cooperating with Federal authorities with regard to immigration enforcement.

This is by no means the majority policy of jurisdictions around the country. Far from it, Mr. President, because I think a clear overwhelming majority of the American people and their State and local elected officials support commonsense cooperation with the Federal Government in enforcing our laws. But it is a very significant trend, a very significant happening around the country. Many local jurisdictions and at least two States have adopted this very conscious and very boldly proclaimed policy, calling themselves sanctuary cities, or sanctuary jurisdictions.

My amendment would simply prohibit COPS funding from going to these jurisdictions. It would say this is our Federal law, and that States, that localities must cooperate with Federal immigration officials. And if they are not going to do that, if they are going to pass laws clearly in contravention, 180 degrees opposed to Federal law, then they will not get COPS funding under this bill.

Again, Mr. President, it couldn't be simpler. It couldn't be more straightforward--COPS money, COPS funds, will not go to sanctuary cities, so-called sanctuary jurisdictions, if my amendment passes. And, again, this is doing nothing more than enforcing present Federal law, a policy or law that has been on the books for over 10 years. So why shouldn't we put some meaningful teeth in that Federal law and prevent these local and State jurisdictions from simply flaunting Federal law and not abiding by Federal law?

I would note that the House of Representatives has already acted on this issue in the companion bill to this CJS appropriations bill. In the House bill, a similar amendment to mine passed by voice vote. Having said that, I would hope that a huge majority of the Senate similarly votes to pass this Vitter amendment, to adopt it, and to put it on the CJS appropriations bill.

This is common sense. It does nothing more than enforce current Federal policy and Federal law. It is clearly the sort of commonsense, straightforward legislation that a huge majority of the American people support. I know there will be a vote on this sometime tomorrow, Mr. President, so I urge all my colleagues, Republican and Democrat, to join with the huge majority of the American people behind this reasonable and commonsense policy.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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