Now that Biden has moved to reform immigration, Senate Republicans are retaliating.
Senate Republicans are hitting back at the wave of immigration reform actions President Joe Biden has implemented in his first weeks in office by reintroducing legislation to penalize sanctuary cities in the United States.
"As Biden admin reopens floodgate of illegal immigration its more important than evr 4 state/local authorities 2cooperate w immigration enforcement Sen Tillis &I introduced Justice For Victims Of Sanctuary Cities Act 2hold jurisdictions accountable if they flout immigration laws," Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) tweeted on Friday morning.
On his first day in office, Biden signed an executive order overturning a prior order of Trump's that sought to punish sanctuary cities by withholding federal funding from them, among several other executive orders seeking to overturn Donald Trump's draconian immigration policies.
While there's no one-size-fits-all definition of what constitutes a "sanctuary" city, in general, these are jurisdictions where local ordinances tend to protect undocumented immigrants, especially those without a criminal background, from deportation by federal agencies.
According to Reuters, more than 150 cities and counties in 10 states have adopted some form of "sanctuary" legal protections, and local law enforcement in these jurisdictions may deny requests from federal immigration officials to detain undocumented criminal offenders, or refuse to communicate with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement or allow immigration officials to enter jails.
The new iteration of the Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act, first introduced in 2019 and now spearheaded by Grassley alongside Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), again seeks to strip community funding from sanctuary cities that don't cooperate with federal immigration officials.
It also allows for victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants in sanctuary cities or jurisdictions to bring a case against the city or jurisdiction and receive compensatory damages.
Eleven other Republicans cosponsored the legislation.
Grassley and Tillis have also reintroduced the Immigration Detainer Enforcement Act, which gives incentives like detention reimbursement to sanctuary cities that comply with detainers and deprioritizes jurisdictions that are viewed as noncompliant with detainer requests from immigration officials from receiving grants and other funding.
In reintroducing the bill, Tillis directly slammed Biden for prioritizing "politics" with his immigration reform efforts, saying, "Reckless sanctuary policies have allowed hundreds of dangerous criminals back into the streets of North Carolina, and that number will continue to increase as President Biden pushes for sanctuary city legislation that puts politics ahead of the safety and security of the American people."
But despite frequent Republican claims to the contrary, there is no available data for exactly how many undocumented immigrants have committed crimes in sanctuary jurisdictions or any other jurisdiction, since no existing national or state database tracks that information.
What studies have repeatedly shown is that "sanctuary" policies in cities and counties do not in any way correlate with increased crime rates — and that allowing local law enforcement to serve as de facto immigration officials, initiating deportation proceedings, has no effect on local crime rates but does harm the local economy.
One research study published in 2020 found that undocumented immigrants commit crimes at a significantly lower rate than both documented immigrants and U.S. citizens.
"Relative to undocumented immigrants, U.S.-born citizens are over 2 times more likely to be arrested for violent crimes, 2.5 times more likely to be arrested for drug crimes, and over 4 times more likely to be arrested for property crimes," the study found.
Republican lawmakers are also opposing other immigration reform efforts tackled by Biden during his first weeks in office.
On Jan. 20, the President issued executive orders halting construction on Trump's border wall and preserving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy that Trump sought to overturn. DACA defers deportation of some undocumented immigrants brought into the United States when they were children.
His acting secretary of homeland security, David Pekoske, issued a memo in Biden's first days calling for a 100-day halt in deportations for some immigrants, and Biden also has plans to overturn Trump-era limitations on visas for certain classes of immigrants.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.