Alabama Congressional Republicans unanimously support bill defunding ‘Sanctuary Cities’
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a vote of 241 to 179, the U.S. House of Representatives approved Thursday the “Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act” in response to growing outrage over lack of immigration enforcement which some believe led to the death of Katie Steinle in San Francisco earlier this month.
The bill cuts off specific federal law enforcement grants for sanctuary cities—municipalities which refuse to cooperate with the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) or other government agencies charged with immigration, or have laws that bar law enforcement from inquiring about a suspect’s immigration status.
All six of Alabama’s Republican representatives voted in favor of passage, while the state’s lone Democrat, Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL7), voted against it.
“If a city chooses not to cooperate with the federal government in enforcing immigration law, then they should not receive the benefit of federal law enforcement funding,” said Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL6), “The rule of law must always remain a high priority for every elected official if we are to maintain our constitutional order.”
In his explanation of his vote, Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL1) cited not only his duty to his constituents, but his duty as a father. “There’s been a failure here, and in part, it’s our failure, and I don’t think it’s too much for any of us to understand the human component of that [Kate Steinle’s] father. And this is not an isolated incident, unfortunately. If it’s not an isolated incident, it’s going to happen again until somebody stops it.”
“And it seems to me it’s the responsibility of those of us in public office to stop it, and here is an opportunity to stop it, and I would not be doing my duty as a Congressman – I also would not be doing my duty as a dad – if I didn’t stop it,” he continued.
Congressional Republicans from Alabama have followed the lead of their Senate counterpart Jeff Sessions, who introduced a bill seeking to close loopholes in the federal government’s enforcement of immigration law. In other contexts, Sessions has gone as far as to say officials from sanctuary cities should be prosecuted.
According to the Center for Immigration Studies, 200 municipalities nationwide could be classified as sanctuary cities. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) estimates that from January 1 to August 31 of 2014, more than 8,100 deportable aliens were released after being arrested by sanctuary jurisdictions. Of the 8,100 aliens released by sanctuary jurisdictions, approximately 1,900 were later arrested yet again. In many instances, these illegal immigrants were subsequently arrested more than once.