GOP Senators look to crack down on Sanctuary Cities
Republican Senators, believing that the time is ripe to go after Sanctuary Cities in the wake of the murder of a San Francisco woman by an illegal alien, will introduce amendments to the "Every Child Achieves Act," an education bill that erforms the No Child Left Behind Act, that would limit funding to cities that don't enforce federal immigration laws.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a presidential contender, as well as Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), have filed an amendment to the Every Child Achieves Act, the Senate's overhaul of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law, that would redirect funding meant for sanctuary cities to state and local governments that comply with federal law.
Sessions accused officials of “deliberately and openly” disregarding federal immigration laws as an “act of defiance.”
“Congress has an obligation to ensure limited taxpayer dollars are not given to cities and counties who refuse to cooperate with federal law enforcement,” he said.
Republican Sen. David Vitter, who is running for governor in Louisiana, has also introduced an amendment cracking down on sanctuary cities to the education bill.
But tying the immigration measure to the education bill, which has so far managed to avoid any political landmines, would likely sink the legislation, which has the strong support of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
The conservative push to punish sanctuary cities comes as congressional Democrats have walked a fine line in the wake of the shooting.
Democrats have pressed for more details, but been careful to not directly blame San Francisco’s laws for Steinle’s death, and have shown even less appetite for limiting federal funding to the more than 200 sanctuary cities in the United States.
Republicans have sought to raise pressure on Democrats over the issue.
“Reasonable people can and do differ on issues of border security, interior enforcement and the status of illegal immigrants present in our nation," said Cotton. "We should not disagree about the importance of the rule of law.”
Other Republicans, including Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), another 2016 contender, are also rolling out legislation in the wake of the shooting.
Paul is expected to introduce a measure requiring state and local agencies to tell U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when they’ve arrested an illegal agreement. The agencies would also have to hold someone if ICE requests.
Punishing cities who flout immigration law by fiddling with education funding is a tricky business. You want to avoid hurting schools while making it clear that policies must change. Senator Paul's bill is probably more to the point. It attacks the basis for sanctuary by taking the decision of whether to deport someone out of local authorities hands. This won't guarantee deportation, but it will make it difficult for a city to release a dangerous criminal.
There is a growing consensus in border states and among Republicans that something must be done about Sanctuary Cities. If the Democrats want to be seen as obstructionists on this issue, let them. It just highlights the already clear divide between the two parties on the immigration issue.