Barletta Praises PA House for Bill Holding Sanctuary Cities Liable

Oct 20, 2016
Press Release
Holds Localities Responsible for Consequences, Withholds State Funding

WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) today praised the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for passage of legislation that would crack down on “sanctuary cities” – those localities which refuse to cooperate in the enforcement of federal immigration laws.  The legislation, which is now being considered by the Pennsylvania Senate, imposes financial penalties on such localities and requires local law enforcement to cooperate and share information with federal immigration officials.  The legislation (HB1885), authored by state Rep. Martina White (170th District), passed the Pennsylvania House this week by a vote of 136-to-55.  Barletta long has been a champion of combating municipalities which provide safe havens for those who have broken United States immigration laws. 

“This is a tremendous step in the right direction, and I urge the state Senate to follow the House in approving this important legislation,” Barletta said.  “Sanctuary cities provide refuge for illegal immigrants, drain local resources, and contribute to an increase in crime.  This bill says that sanctuary cities can no longer operate with impunity and holds them accountable for their own actions and the behavior of the illegal immigrants they are sheltering.”

The legislation targets sanctuary cities by:

  • Holding sanctuary cities financially responsible for crimes against persons or property committed by illegal immigrants.
  • Prohibiting municipalities from blocking or restricting the ability of local law enforcement to communicate information regarding immigration status to federal officials.
  • Requiring municipalities to file a compliance report with the state regarding such communications to federal officials.
  • Requiring local law enforcement officers who have reasonable cause to believe that an individual under arrest is an illegal alien to immediately contact the federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).
  • Requiring municipalities to report to the state the number of times it reports suspected illegal aliens to ICE.
  • Withholding state funding to municipalities which fail to comply.  

“As we saw in the case of Kate Steinle in San Francisco, sanctuary cities can result in deadly consequences for law-abiding citizens,” Barletta said, referencing the murder of the 32-year-old woman killed in 2015 by an illegal immigrant, who was a seven-time felon who had been deported at least five times.  “In my own hometown of Hazleton, we have seen violent crime at the hands of illegal immigrants, sometimes with tragic conclusions.”

Barletta has personal experience with tragedies involving the victims of illegal immigrants.  When Barletta was mayor of Hazleton in 2006, a local man, Derek Kichline, was murdered by an illegal immigrant who had been released in New York, another sanctuary jurisdiction.  Barletta was also moved by meeting the parents of 20-year-old murder victim Carly Snyder of Northumberland County, who was stabbed 37 times by an illegal immigrant from Honduras in 2005.    

In October 2015, Democrats in the U.S. Senate blocked federal legislation that would have addressed sanctuary cities.  The House had passed similar legislation, which withheld certain law-enforcement funding and grants.  There are now approximately 340 such sanctuary cities in the United States, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. 

In July 2015, Barletta had reintroduced a bill – tougher than even the House version – that he authored in 2011 as his first piece of Congressional legislation, the Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Act (H.R. 3002), which would prohibit 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.  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 law.