Reid: Bill Targeting Sanctuary Cities Would 'Undermine' Local Law Enforcement

Melanie Arter | July 6, 2016 | 3:41pm EDT
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Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) (AP Photo)

( – Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Thursday that a bill targeting sanctuary cities that refuse to enforce immigration laws would “undermine the ability of local law enforcement to police their own communities to ensure public safety.”

“Senator Toomey’s bill will undermine the ability of local law enforcement to police their own communities to ensure public safety. It would deny millions of dollars of critical community and economic development funding to cities and states that refuse to target immigrant families,” Reid said in a speech on the Senate floor.


Sen. Pat Toomey’s (R-Pa.) bill, the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act, would “ensure that State and local law enforcement may cooperate with Federal officials to protect our communities from violent criminals and suspected terrorists who are illegally present in the United States.” Cities that set up sanctuaries for illegals would be “ineligible for certain federal funds.”

“Senator Toomey’s legislation would simply create more problems. It wouldn’t solve anything. Not surprising I suppose why mayors, domestic violence groups, Latino and civil rights groups and labor organizations,” Reid said. “Senator Cruz’s bill is no better.”

Cruz’s bill “would enact unnecessary mandatory minimum sentences. It would cost billions, billions of new dollars, increase the prison population and siphon funding from state and local law enforcement. Worst of all, this sort of partisan piecemeal approach undermines bipartisan efforts to enact badly needed reforms on our criminal justice system,” Reid added.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)’s bill, Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act, would increase mandatory minimum sentences for immigrants convicted of repeatedly entering the U.S. illegally. The bill has been nicknamed Kate’s Law, in honor of Kate Steinle, who was killed last year by an illegal immigrant who shot her while she was walking along the waterfront in San Francisco.

Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez had been deported five times and was wanted for a sixth removal when he was released from jail, the Associated Press reported.

 “Senator Toomey’s Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act aims to deter extreme and unfair so-called sanctuary city policies in the first place, and Senator Cruz’s Kate Law would help protect the public even when cities insist on maintaining these dangerous policies,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the floor of the Senate.

“Senator Toomey’s bill would support jurisdictions that cooperate with federal law enforcement officials and redirect funds to them from those places that would refuse to do so. It would also support law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every single day, protecting them from having to live in constant fear of being sued for simply doing their jobs,” McConnell said.

“No wonder this bill has such broad support from the law enforcement community, including the Federal Law Enforcement Officers’ Association, the National Sheriffs’ Association, and the National Association of Police Organizations,” he added.

“Senator Toomey’s bill in conjunction with Senator Cruz’s bill aims to prevent more families from experiencing the heartache that Kate Steinle’s family has been forced to endure. It’s been a year since Kate was tragically murdered in San Francisco by a convicted felon who had been deported five times,” McConnell said.

“What makes this tragedy even more heartbreaking is that it could have been prevented, but San Francisco had an extreme so-called sanctuary city policy of not complying with federal immigration laws, apparently, even when it came to detaining dangerous criminals residing in our country illegally,” he added.

“We’re a nation of immigrants. We all appreciate the many contributions that immigrants have made to our country over the years,” McConnell said.

“Americans from both parties know it would be incredibly dishonest to pretend this bill was aimed at law-abiding immigrants who enrich our country rather than who it is really aimed at – those who come to this country illegally and have criminal convictions. Americans from both parties also understand that extreme sanctuary city policies can inflict incredible pain on innocent victims and their families,” he said.

“President Obama’s own secretary of Homeland Security has called sanctuary city policies not acceptable and counterproductive to public safety,” McConnell said.

McConnell noted that the Senate “took up similar measures last year, and it was unfortunate to see them blocked.” He urged the chamber to work together “to make the right choice and advance these measures to prevent more tragedies like Kate’s and to support local law enforcement officials, who put their lives on the line for us every day.”

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