Rep. Marsha Blackburn: To save lives and money, we must cut off federal funding for sanctuary cities

Over two years ago, Kate Steinle was shot and killed on a San Francisco pier. A convicted felon illegal alien, Garcia Zarate, is currently on trial for Steinle’s murder. Zarate had previously been deported five times and was to be deported again until the local sheriff’s office released him because of San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy.

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California took things a step further recently by declaring itself a sanctuary state. New Jersey has also threatened to provide statewide amnesty.

Sanctuary cities and states threaten public safety, cost taxpayers’ money and encourage lawlessness. Because of this, I have once again introduced the Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal (CLEAR) Act, which cuts off federal funding for sanctuary cities and states that provide amnesty for criminal illegal aliens.

Liberals cheer sanctuary policies as compassionate, but the reality is far different. Ask the Steinle family.

Why are we protecting criminals who have already broken the law when they entered our country?

Sanctuary cities endanger their citizens. When Phoenix dropped its sanctuary city policy in 2008, its murder rate fell 27 percent the following year, and other violent crime rates also fell.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions called California’s decision to become a sanctuary state “unconscionable.” Citing a study from the University of California Riverside, Sessions said in July that cities with sanctuary policies “have more violent crime on average than those that don’t.” 

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Why are we protecting criminals who have already broken the law when they entered our country?

In addition to being less safe, sanctuary cities cost hard-working taxpayers money. A Feb. 2 piece in Forbes notes that $27 billion in federal funding was provided to over 100 sanctuary cities in 2016. It states that “the cost of lost federal funding for a family of four residing in one of the 106 sanctuary cities is $1,810 – or $454 per the cost of lost federal person.” 

That money could be putting food on the table for struggling middle-class families. Where is the compassion for them?  Fortunately, the Democratic Nashville Metro Council came to its senses last June and withdrew bills that would have made Nashville a “sanctuary.” The county sheriff said the legislation would have endangered the community.  

Sanctuary policies are lawless, delusional and open up a Pandora’s box of consequences. They promote open borders by serving as a magnet for illegals lured here by the false hope of amnesty. Every state becomes a border state and every town a border town. Further, if liberal politicians can ignore one law, what is to stop them from ignoring others?  Where does the madness end?  

Kate Steinle would most likely be alive today if the law had been followed. The CLEAR Act withholds federal funding from sanctuary cities and states that prevent local officers from assisting or cooperating with federal immigration enforcement.

Under my legislation, the Department of Homeland Security must also take custody of criminal illegal aliens within 48 hours of an arrest, if requested to do so by a state or local entity – or ask the local agency to temporarily detain the alien. Additionally, the CLEAR Act requires that DHS help train state and local officers.   

California’s decision to become a sanctuary state is similar to the open borders vision that is destroying Europe. Sanctuary policies threaten public safety, take money from hardworking taxpayers, and encourage more illegal immigration.

Instead, we must secure the border by building President Trump’s wall and discourage amnesty. The CLEAR Act will accomplish this by withholding federal funds from state and local entities that do not respect the law. If lawlessness prevails, we will eventually become a sanctuary country.