Barletta Introduces Bill to Defund Sanctuary Cities

Jul 9, 2015
Press Release
Stops Federal Funding for Cities Failing to Cooperate with Immigration Officials

Kate Steinle, 32, was murdered by a seven-time felon who had been deported five times, according to police in San Francisco.  


WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta, PA-11, today introduced the Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Act, which will stop all federal funds from flowing to states or localities which resist or ban enforcement of federal immigration laws, or flatly refuse to cooperate with immigration officials.  The legislation follows the July 1st San Francisco murder of 32-year-old Kate Steinle, whose accused killer is a seven-time felon who had been deported five times previously.  Barletta has personal experience with a similar crime, as he was mayor of Hazleton when a local man, Derek Kichline, was murdered by an illegal immigrant who had also been released by a sanctuary city.  Barletta introduced the same legislation in 2011.

“Every life matters.  And I wonder how many more innocent people have to die before we recognize that sanctuary cities are safe havens for everybody but law-abiding citizens,” Barletta said.  “It’s time to end the policy of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in cities that actively work for illegal immigrants, and against our immigration laws.”

The Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Act prohibits any federal funding for a minimum period of one year to any state or local government which has a policy or law that prevents them from assisting immigration authorities in enforcing federal immigration law.  The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) lists more than 200 such localities in the United States.  Barletta’s bill directs the attorney general to compile an annual list of such cities and issue a report on any particular state or locality upon request from a member of Congress.  A state or local government would only regain federal funding eligibility after the attorney general certifies that its laws and policies are in compliance with federal immigration statutes.

“Four years ago when I introduced this bill, Congress lacked the political will to pass it,” Barletta said.  “I see the tide turning now, and I am just heartbroken that it has taken the death of a young woman, a cherished member of her family, to bring this issue to the fore again.”

2006: Derek Kichline Murdered by Illegal Immigrant in Hazleton

Derek Kichline, a 29-year-old father of three in Hazleton, was shot to death while he worked on his pickup truck in front of his own house in 2006.  His accused killer was an illegal immigrant who had been arrested at least a half dozen times, including in the sanctuary city of New York.  It was then, as mayor of Hazleton, that Barletta pushed for the passage of the Illegal Immigration Relief Act.

“When I first learned of Kate Steinle’s death, the first thing I thought of was Derek Kichline,” Barletta said.  “It’s time that someone spoke for the victims of these crimes, and their families, instead of the ones who are pulling the triggers.”

Hazleton’s Illegal Immigration Relief Act suspended the business licenses of any landlord or business which knowingly rented to or hired illegal immigrants.  The ordinance was challenged in court by anonymous plaintiffs represented by the Americans for Civil Liberties Union, and was eventually struck down by federal courts.  Though Hazleton’s law was never enforced because of the litigation, local statutes based on it are permitted in 16 states covered by rulings from the 8th and 9th Circuit Courts of Appeal.

“We must make sure that we’re enforcing the immigration laws that we already have,” Barletta said.  “Sanctuary cities are dangerous to public safety, and we should stop supporting them with federal tax dollars.”