Robert Hurt: Sanctuary cities violate the law, endanger public safety
Immigrants who have come to America over the last two centuries refresh, enrich, and restore the promise of American liberty. The many immigrants who have traversed the path to becoming American citizens – oftentimes through much hardship – have made this country great. Indeed, we are a nation of immigrants.
But we are also a nation founded on the rule of law. The rule of law centers on the premise that in our democratic republic, the laws of the land reflect the will of the people. The rule of law also requires that it be faithfully applied to everyone – regardless of who they are. It is for that reason that those of us who are elected to represent our fellow citizens take an oath before God to faithfully support the Constitution and to always follow the law. And our Founders knew that a society that fails to respect the rule of law will ultimately dissolve into chaos.
Furthermore, it requires that federal, state, and local governments faithfully enforce the laws on the books. Jurisdictions that refuse to enforce our nation’s immigration laws – commonly known as sanctuary cities – are not a new phenomenon but have recently been brought back into the public eye.
Earlier this month, Kate Steinle was tragically shot and killed in San Francisco by an illegal immigrant who had already been deported from the United States five times. Though he was detained on drug charges just months ago, San Francisco police released him because it is a sanctuary city that refuses to abide by detainer orders from the Department of Homeland Security. Many were left wondering how an avoidable tragedy like this could happen in our nation of laws – particularly when similarly tragic incidents have occurred in past years as well.
The American people are well aware of our broken immigration system and share my frustration with the idea that some jurisdictions actively choose to disregard the law and make these challenges even greater. On Thursday, the House passed the Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act. This legislation is simple: it holds that if jurisdictions hinder federal immigration enforcement, they may not receive federal law enforcement grants. It ensures states and localities that put public safety at risk and frustrate the enforcement of our immigration law face consequences. I was proud to support this sensible legislation.
Regrettably, the President’s immigration policies have only exacerbated our nation’s broken immigration system. This Administration does not fully enforce the laws we have on the books, and the President’s sweeping executive actions would effectively grant legal status to nearly five million illegal immigrants. The President also ended a successful program used to identify criminal aliens in local jails and replaced it with a program that allows many criminal aliens to remain in the United States.
Back in January, the House passed legislation to prevent the funding of the President’s recent executive actions and require priority removal and deportation of illegal immigrants who have been convicted of crimes. But it is clear that we must do more. Our colleagues in the Senate must expeditiously join us in these efforts, and it is my hope the White House will begin to work with us to enforce our nation’s laws.
We can, and must, work together at all levels of government to fix our broken immigration system, and we must implement policies that will discourage, rather than encourage, illegal immigration. I remain committed to strengthening the security of our borders and to implementing an immigration policy that is rooted in the rule of law.
If you need any additional information or if we may be of assistance to you, please visit my website at hurt.house.gov or call my Washington office: (202) 225-4711, Charlottesville office: (434) 973-9631, Danville office: (434) 791-2596, or Farmville office: (434) 395-0120.
Robert Hurt represents Virginia’s Fifth District in Congress.