The Congressional recess is happening this week, which means lawmakers from the House of Representatives and the Senate are taking a break from their work drafting and passing laws. The week after a Congressional recess is always very busy, with many bills scheduled for debates and votes. Next week is no different because the Senate is scheduled to take up the bill that would prevent so-called “sanctuary cities” from receiving federal grants for law enforcement programs if the cities do not cooperate with federal immigration officers.
The Bill: The Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act
The Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act (SSPPA) was hastily conceived and quickly drafted in the wake of the tragic death of a San Francisco woman, Kate Steinle. Ms. Steinle was shot and killed several months ago and the man who has been charged with her death is an undocumented Mexican national who had previously been deported from the United States and who had re-entered the country without authorization.
It has been argued that Ms. Steinle’s accused killer has been living in San Francisco due to a law passed by the city in 1989 that prevents local police officials from helping federal immigration agents during investigations or arrests unless the agents have a warrant. Cities with similar policies have been nicknamed “sanctuary cities” and include New York, Knoxville, Los Angeles, and Manchester.
If passed, the SSPPA would prevent such cities from receiving federal grants that are earmarked for law enforcement purposes. These funds would then be redirected to cities that do not have sanctuary policies in place and that readily cooperate with federal immigration officials.
The bill has been introduced by Louisiana Senator David Vitter and Arizona Senator Jeff Flake. The House of Representatives already passed its version of the bill in July.
Opposition to the Bill
One of the most outspoken opponents of the SSPPA has been the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). A spokesperson from the organization has stated that the group’s leaders will work hard to fight the bill because, in their estimation, the legislation does nothing to fix existing immigration problems, and its passage would merely cut off needed funds for local police forces.
Support for the Bill
Due to the highly politicized and emotional nature of the immigration debate, there has also been support for the SSPPA, nicknamed “Kate’s Law,” and its provision that would include a minimum five-year jail sentence for any foreign national who is apprehended in the U.S. after a previous deportation. Media personnel such as Bill O’Reilly and Donald Trump have been very vocal about their support.
It is always very disappointing when people use tragedies to their own political advantages, as is the case with the SSPPA. Readers are urged to contact their representatives and inform them that the U.S. and its citizens needs comprehensive immigration reform – not the SSPPA. Continue to check our blog for more information on the latest deportation laws and other immigration developments.
Additional Blog Posts
Democrats Propose New Immigration Reform, ImmigRantings, July 20, 2011
Congress Asks DHS to Grant Temporary Protected Status to Filipinos, ImmigRantings, December 5, 2013