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Congressman Bob Goodlatte

Congressman Bob Goodlatte’s Weekly Column: October 14, 2016
Sanctuary Cities Ignore the Law
By Congressman Bob Goodlatte
Washington, DC (Oct. 14, 2016) - We are a nation of laws. That principle was important to our Founders, and it is rightfully at the very core of our government. In fact, as I travel the Sixth Congressional District, folks continually tell me about the importance of following the rule of law as the best way to govern our country. Too often they have seen laws ignored with little or no consequences for those who break them, and want this to change.

So-called sanctuary cities are one of the worst examples of people thumbing their nose at the rule of law. These communities needlessly endanger American lives by adopting public policies refusing to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in its enforcement of federal immigration laws. As a result, thousands of criminal aliens have been released back into our neighborhoods to commit more crimes instead of being detained. These sanctuary cities are known to become magnets for gangs, drug dealers, and other criminal aliens as safe havens to avoid apprehension, detention, and deportation under our immigration laws. For the families of those killed or injured by criminal aliens, policies that allow these preventable tragedies are a kick in the gut.

Sanctuary cities also violate federal law. Two decades ago, Congress enacted a law that prevents jurisdictions from implementing policies that prohibit their employees from sharing information with ICE about illegally present or criminal aliens.

There are more than 300 sanctuary jurisdictions in the United States. One of these is the City of New Orleans. In 2010, the current Mayor of New Orleans invited the Department of Justice (DOJ) to review the policies of the New Orleans Police Department, apparently in part to transform New Orleans into a sanctuary city. As a result of a lawsuit filed by DOJ against the City, both parties entered into a settlement agreement – or consent decree – that forbid the New Orleans Police Department from cooperating with ICE.

The House Judiciary Committee recently held a hearing to examine the Department of Justice’s actions in New Orleans. After numerous attempts to get information from DOJ and the New Orleans Police Department, we heard just four days before this hearing that the police department had revised its sanctuary policy. However, neither party has provided evidence of this, and even after this hearing, I still have not heard a clear explanation as to why DOJ, the chief U.S. law enforcement agency, would ever encourage a local jurisdiction to violate federal law.

There is an answer to this problem. Compliance with ICE detainers must be mandatory. Jurisdictions that violate that policy must face consequences. Most importantly, Congress must no longer allow the President the ability to simply turn off the immigration enforcement switch. The House has taken action to end sanctuary cities, and now it is time for the Senate to act and the President to uphold the rule of law and stop these dangerous policies once and for all.

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