Barletta Applauds Justice Department Policy Cracking Down on Sanctuary Cities

Jul 27, 2017
Press Release
New Policy Makes Cooperation with Immigration Authorities Condition for Receiving Federal Grant Money

WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) today applauded a recent announcement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will stop providing Byrne JAG grant funding to sanctuary cities.  According to the announcement, cities and states must comply with federal immigration laws in order to qualify for the grant funding.  Specifically, localities must allow federal immigration authorities to access local detention facilities and provide 48 hours notice before releasing an illegal immigrant wanted by federal authorities.  These conditions are aimed at increasing information sharing between federal, state, and local law enforcement.

“Sanctuary cities are dangerous to public safety, and I’m glad that the DOJ is taking this commonsense step to stop supporting them with federal tax dollars,” Barletta said.  “The American people expect their government to enforce laws intended to keep them safe.  Yet, in sanctuary cities across the nation, that is simply not happening.  No mayor has the right to pick and choose which federal laws to follow, just like American citizens do not have the right to pick and choose which section of the criminal code they want to follow.  It’s about time that we end the policy of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in cities that actively work for illegal immigrants, and against our immigration laws intended to protect American citizens.”

Sanctuary cities are localities which resist or ban enforcement of federal immigration laws, or refuse to cooperate with immigration officials.  According to the new conditions, in order to receive Byrne JAG grant funding, localities must enforce federal laws and cooperate with federal immigration officials.  Thus, sanctuary cities would be precluded from receiving these funds.  The Byrne JAG program provides states, tribes, and local governments with funding to support various law enforcement activities.  

Barletta has introduced the Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Act, H.R. 83, which would 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 bill 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 about 300 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.  This is the third time he has introduced the legislation.

Barletta introduced the bill as his first piece of legislation as a freshman congressman in 2011 because of his personal experience with the danger of sanctuary cities while he was mayor of Hazleton.  In 2006, a 29-year-old local father of three, Derek Kichline, was murdered by an illegal immigrant who had been released by law enforcement a number of times, including by the sanctuary city of New York.  Additionally, Barletta was spurred to reintroduce the bill in 2015 following the San Francisco murder of 32-year-old Kate Steinle, whose accused killer was a seven-time felon who had been deported five times previously.

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