Vitter's View: Fighting Illegal Immigration by Holding Sanctuary Cities Accountable
Illegal immigration is one of the most serious issues facing our nation. Each and every day, thousands of individuals illegally cross our borders and disappear into our cities and towns. In these times of increased terrorism throughout the world, we should be taking steps to further secure the integrity of our national borders and crack down on illegal immigration. Unfortunately, some local governments and municipalities do not share these sentiments, and that is having dangerous consequences.
On June 22 in San Francisco, Edwin Ramos, an illegal alien and member of the MS-13 gang, allegedly pulled a gun on a father and his three sons and shot all three to death. Last August, illegal alien Jose Carranza was charged in Essex County Superior Court in New Jersey for the execution-style murders of three college students. Both of these dangerous criminals had been found to be illegally in our country, but because of the local government's sanctuary policies, federal immigrant officials were never notified and these dangerous individuals were never turned over for deportation.
The 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act requires local governments to cooperate with the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The unfortunate reality, however, is that many of our nation's cities have chosen to defy federal law and have adopted sanctuary policies to protect illegal aliens from enforcement agencies. Cities that practice sanctuary policies actually instruct city employees not to notify the federal government of the presence of illegal aliens living in their communities. They even bar local law enforcement officials from inquiring as to the immigration status of criminal suspects.
The horrific and violent nature of Ramos's actions has sparked an important national discussion about San Francisco's sanctuary policies. For years I have been pushing Congress to quit sitting on its hands and enforce and strengthen enforcement against illegal immigration. Last year, during the U.S. Senate criminal justice funding bill debate, I offered an amendment that would have stopped some federal law enforcement funding from going to cities with sanctuary policies. That amendment lost by a vote of 52-42. But in March I again offered this same policy as a stand-alone bill, and I will keep pushing it.
To continue to provide these sanctuary cities with government-funded rewards is an insult to all of those immigrants who respect and follow the process. We must get serious about the illegal immigration problem, and one way to do that is to hold all sanctuary cities accountable. Withholding their federal funding would let them know that they should get serious about this issue instead of flouting federal law and ignoring this critical national concern.
Please let me know about any issues of importance to you and your family by contacting me at any of my state offices or in my Washington office by mail at U.S. Senator David Vitter, U.S. Senate, 516 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510, or by phone at 202-224-4623. You can also reach me on the web at http://vitter.senate.gov.