U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta unveils bill cutting federal funds for ‘sanctuary cities'

May 31, 2011
Press Release


HAZLETON– Standing on the steps of the City Hall where he held the mayor’s office for more than a decade, U.S. Representative Lou Barletta, PA-11, unveiled his first piece of legislation, the “Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Act,” or MASC Act.

This bill will crack down on so-called “sanctuary cities” –  municipalities where elected officials willfully choose to not enforce immigration policy – by withholding all federal funding from them as long as their sanctuary policies are in place.

Rep. Barletta’s comments as delivered:

Five years ago, when I was mayor here in Hazleton, I introduced the Illegal Immigration Relief Act, the first law of its type at the local level in the country.

When I did, and after city council courageously approved it, the City of Hazleton was immediately sued.

Years later and we are still fighting that legal battle to enact our law and protect our legal, taxpaying residents and Hazleton’s small budget.

But across the country, more than 100 cities have elected officials who knowingly and willfully defy federal immigration law.

They create so-called sanctuary cities – and they create safe havens where illegal aliens can hide and continue to break our laws.

These sanctuary cities are not punished. In fact, they are rewarded – with billions of American tax dollars each and every year.

That’s why I’m proud to stand here on the steps of City Hall where I began this fight five years ago to unveil my first piece of legislation, the Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Act.

The MASC Act, will crack down on cities whose elected officials have willfully chosen to not enforce immigration policy by withholding all federal funding from them as long as their sanctuary policies are in place.

Later today, I am returning to Washington, and I’m bringing this bill from Hazleton and introducing it in the United States House of Representatives.

Four weeks ago, just a few miles from here, a police chief stopped an illegal alien who has been in the country for six years. This man didn’t know his address. He had an arrest record. He had no job. He had $3,000 in cash in his pockets. He had two public benefit access cards.

And the federal government told the police chief to let this illegal alien go.

Members of Congress have made a commitment to stop waste, fraud, and abuse in federal programs.

But elected officials of sanctuary cities are helping people defraud the federal government.

If we are serious about cracking down on waste, fraud, and abuse, we cannot and should not let elected officials of sanctuary cities get in the way.

But more importantly, this is a serious national security issue. We should not have American mayors making it harder to keep Americans safe.

Five of the 19 September 11 terrorists were here illegally, staying in the United States after their visas expired.

It’s been 10 years since those attacks, yet this serious national security problem still exists. A government study released just this month showed that almost half of all illegal immigrants in the United States entered the country legally, then remained here after their visas expired.

We have 80-year-old grandmothers and six-year-old children getting touched at airports in the name of national security, but we have mayors in this country who create safe havens for would-be terrorists.

Our visa system is broken. Our borders are far too open and not secure. And we have elected officials who create safe havens where an illegal alien’s immigration status and identity are not only protected but are withheld from national security agencies.

This is unsafe, it is unwise, and it is easily fixed: If you ignore federal law, you get no federal funding.

Cracking down on sanctuary cities will make sure that federal immigration law is enforced all across the country. It will eliminate safe havens for terrorists. And it will help keep Americans safe.

After I said I was going to introduce this bill earlier this month, a national poll was taken, and it showed that 60 percent of the American public supports this bill.

The American people know this is the right thing do to. It makes sense. It helps keep us safe. And it cuts down on waste, fraud, and abuse.

That poll also showed that most Americans don’t think Congress will pass the MASC Act, but I’m not pessimistic.

After all, from here in Hazleton City Hall, we started a grassroots movement against illegal immigration – a movement that just last week saw a law that is almost identical to the business portion of the Hazleton ordinance upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States.

What started in Hazleton became a national movement.

It’s only right that we start another movement right here with the introduction of the MASC Act.

And with that, I’ll take a couple of questions.