The White House this morning vowed to veto a sanctuary cities bill that comes to the Senate floor for a cloture vote this afternoon.
The bill from Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), the Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act, would withhold certain federal funding from sanctuary states or cities that fail to comply with Department of Homeland Security-issued detainer requests for illegal immigrants.
It has 11 cosponsors, including Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), and John Thune (R-S.D.).
A message from the Office of Management and Budget said that the administration “strongly opposes” the measure because it “fails to offer comprehensive reforms needed to fix the nation’s broken immigration laws and undermines current administration efforts to remove the most dangerous convicted criminals and to work collaboratively with state and local law enforcement agencies.”
“The administration continues to believe that it is critical to fix the nation’s broken immigration system through comprehensive commonsense legislation that builds on existing efforts to strengthen border security, cracks down on employers hiring undocumented workers, streamlines legal immigration, and offers an earned path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants to get right with the law if they pass background checks, contribute to the nation’s economy by paying taxes, and go to the back of the line,” the veto threat states. “While the Senate passed comprehensive legislation with strong bipartisan support over two years ago that would do just that, the House of Representatives failed to take any action.”
The OMB argued that the “most effective way to enhance public safety is through sensible and effective policies that focus enforcement resources on the most significant public safety threats.”
The “most significant” offenders, according to the administration, are classified as “national security threats, convicted criminals, gang members, and recent border crossers.”
The White House touted DHS’ Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) as one that “enables federal immigration enforcement to work with state and local law enforcement to take custody of individuals who are enforcement priorities, including public safety and national security threats, before those individuals are released into communities.”
“PEP is a balanced, commonsense approach to enforcing the Nation’s immigration laws. It replaced the Secure Communities program, which, by establishing a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to State and local cooperation with Federal immigration enforcement officials, discouraged some localities from turning over dangerous individuals to DHS custody. Secure Communities was embroiled in litigation and widely criticized for undermining state and local community policing efforts.”
OMB criticized Vitter’s bill as one that would “deny funding for cities to implement a wide range of community development and housing activities, including public safety enhancements and neighborhood-based community policing efforts and investments to increase access to affordable housing, and eliminate blight and support neighborhood planning.”
“The bill would also essentially turn state and local law enforcement into federal immigration law enforcement officials, in certain circumstances. The administration believes that these provisions would lead to mistrust between communities and state and local law enforcement agencies; undermine the ability of law enforcement to keep communities safe across the country; and impede our efforts to safely, fairly, and effectively enforce the nation’s immigration laws.”
On Monday, Vitter propped up on the Senate floor a map pinpointing 340 sanctuary cities across the country.
“The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 included language that specifically prohibits state and local governments from enacting sanctuary policies. Despite that fact, cities continually violate that provision by having sanctuary policies in place. If these cities and localities want to continue to blatantly disregard federal law, they should no longer receive certain federal funds,” Vitter said.
“…While President Obama continues to let the world know that he will not be enforcing the current immigration laws or taking action against these jurisdictions, we here in Congress have an absolute duty to ensure enforcement of the law in all ways possible.”