No doubt, you have noticed the growing, disturbing trend of cities and localities instructing law enforcement officers to ignore individuals’ immigration status in the course of their duties. This practice negates our immigration laws when our local leaders refuse to assist in managing the growing lawbreaking population in our great nation. When cities proclaim that they will not check immigration status, they essentially become a safe haven for not only out-of-status immigrants, but also criminal aliens who have often committed violent atrocities in our country.
The thwarted terrorist plots at John F. Kennedy airport, in Germany and in South Carolina are some of the latest examples of the continued desire of anti-American forces to inflict harm on the United States and its allies. While we are engaged in a global fight for freedom, why would any American city enact policies that give unknown illegal immigrants sanctuary from detection, arrest or prosecution? Instead of working side-by-side with federal authorities, state officials are putting their citizens at risk by erecting barriers to cooperation and enforcement.
In fact, earlier this month I asked Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff if he believed the Department had the authority to deny Homeland Security funds to cities or municipalities that took steps to provide sanctuary to illegal immigrants. His response was, “I don’t know that I have the authority to cut off all Homeland Security funds if I disagree with the city’s policy on immigration.”
As the number of sanctuary cities in the U.S. grows, it is time Congress gives him that authority and lets these cities know that they can not selectively choose to enforce our laws. As such, I have just introduced H.R. 3531, the Accountability in Enforcing Immigration Laws Act of 2007. My bill clarifies that state and local law enforcement officials have the authority to investigate, apprehend, and arrest any illegal immigrant apprehended in the course of routine duties. Those law enforcement agencies that help the federal government enforce immigration laws would receive additional federal funding to help with the costs of detention. Sanctuary cities, on the other hand, would have 25 percent of non-emergency federal Homeland Security funding revoked if they refuse to change their policies within 6 months. My bill also gives the Secretary the authority to withhold up to 50 percent of federal funds.
When cities proclaim that they will not check immigration status, they essentially become a safe haven for not only out-of-status immigrants, but criminal aliens who have often committed violent atrocities in our country. Imagine that Mohammed Atta or one of the other 9/11 hijackers, who were in the country illegally, had a city they could reside in to plot terrorist attacks with no fear of ever being checked or deported. We run the risk of inviting terror into these cities.
Like you, I am serious about stopping illegal immigration and enforcing our laws. Rest assured, I will work diligently with my colleagues on the Immigration Reform Caucus and in the House of Representatives to end the dangerous policy of sanctuary cities in our great nation.