Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Which 6 Democrats Just Voted to Punish Sanctuary Cities?

On Thursday, the House passed the so-called Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act.

The bill would deny federal criminal justice grants to local governments that have adopted policies to limit when law enforcement officers may gather and disseminate information about any person’s immigration status.  These policies are important for public safety because immigrants can report crimes without fearing deportation.

Here is the long statement against the bill in the House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer's daily caucus briefing:
H.R. 3009 is purportedly coming to the Floor in an effort to respond to the tragic death of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco earlier this month, but unfortunately H.R. 3009 does not actually address the problem. Instead it is another cynical, political effort to appeal to the most right-wing, anti-immigrant base of the Republican party.
H.R. 3009 claims to be a legislative solution to the tragic death earlier this month of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco by Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant.  In point of fact, H.R. 3009, had it been law, would not have prevented the sequence of events in the months leading up to this tragedy, which began when the Federal Bureau of Prisons, after holding Lopez-Sanchez for illegal entry into the U.S, in March 2015 transferred him to the custody of the San Francisco’s sheriff office based on a 20-year-old warrant for a marijuana charge in the expectation that the local district attorney would prosecute Lopez-Sanchez.  Rather than pursue the charge, however, the city’s district attorney chose to drop it, which led the sheriff’s office to release Lopez-Sanchez, without notification to federal immigration officials, into the local community in April rather than to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for deportation. In retrospect, it seems that a combination of miscommunication and bureaucratic errors contributed to this tragedy.
What has become clear in the three weeks since this tragedy occurred is that nothing in H.R. 3009 would have encouraged or required the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department to certify that the district attorney’s office would in fact prosecute Lopez-Sanchez before taking custody of him from the Bureau of Prisons.
Also clear is that nothing in H.R. 3009 would have required the Bureau of Prisons and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to consult with both the Sheriff’s Department and the district attorney’s office to determine whether justice would be better served by having ICE promptly deport Lopez-Sanchez from the country rather than transferring him to the Sheriff’s Department for an unlikely prosecution on an old drug charge. And lastly, nothing in H.R. 3009 would even have affected the Sheriff Department’s failure to notify ICE that it was releasing Mr. Lopez-Sanchez from jail.
This bill would deny federal criminal justice grants to local governments that have adopted policies to limit when law enforcement officers may gather and disseminate information about any person’s immigration status.  Such policies are commonly adopted to encourage all residents to cooperate with local law enforcement agencies to enhance public safety. This bill is not intended to address the actual tragedy that occurred, but is instead being rushed to the Floor by House Republicans as a way to demonize immigrants and spread the myth that they are criminals and threats to the public.
This bill would second-guess the decisions made by police chiefs and sheriffs around the country about how best to police their communities and ensure public safety. That is why the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force have urged Congress not to take precipitous action on this bill because it would have a negative impact on law enforcement agencies and public safety across the nation.
In a perverse twist, this bill attempts to force State and local law enforcement agencies to do the Federal government’s job on immigration rather than promoting public safety and community policing by withholding from them federal funds that are specifically targeted to enhance public safety, support community policing and assist crime victims. The Major County Sheriffs’ Association and the Fraternal Order of Police strongly oppose the bill on this ground alone.
Once again, House Republicans are proving that they are incapable of putting any immigration bill on the Floor that doesn't pursue a deportation-only approach. Whether it is deporting DREAMers, the parents of U.S. citizens, children fleeing violence and trafficking,‎ or co-opting the public safety mission of state and local law enforcement agencies to increase deportations all around, that's all House Republicans have been willing to bring to the Floor. They have not taken any action to address the underlying issue and bring forward a comprehensive immigration reform bill.  A real solution and one that would actually make America safer is a sensible immigration system based on legality – getting millions of immigrants into the system and on-the-books if they are playing by the rules and are not criminals or threats to public safety.  
Fixing our immigration system will resolve many of the issues States and localities must now address because of federal inaction. It would also make our communities safer.  Democrats and almost all Americans are united in support for that approach, and it is irresponsible of House Republicans to focus on partisan gimmickry at the expense of making real progress on immigration reform.  Members are urged to VOTE NO.
The bill passed 241 to 179

Six Democrats joined the GOP in voting for the bill:

Ami Bera (CA-07)
Jim Cooper (TN-05)
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
Bill Keating (MA-09)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09)

And five Republicans joined Democrats in voting against it:

Carlos Curbelo (FL-26)
Bob Dold (IL-10)
Dan Donovan (NY-11)
Pete King (NY-02)
Dave Reichert (WA-08)

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