Senate rejects bill to discourage “sanctuary cities”

WASHINGTON – Democrats and one Republican yesterday blocked a bill that would have cut some federal funding from jurisdictions that have “sanctuary city” laws.

Under such laws, local police departments do not cooperate with attempts by the U.S. Immigration agency to deport people. However, they do not block such attempts.

The so-called Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act passed the House in July even after President Obama threatened to veto any such measure. The bill was promoted by NumbersUSA, a right-wing, anti-immigrant group.

The bill was introduced in the Senate by Senator David Vitter, R.-La., who is running for Louisiana governor.  He needed to garner the 60 votes needed to override the promised veto, but was able to get only 54, with Senator Mark Steven Kirk, R.-Ill., joining Democrats in opposing the bill.

Had it passed, the state of California would have been particularly hard hit.

Gabriela Villareal, policy manager for the California Immigrant Policy Center said that the bill “would have taken millions of dollars from cities in California,” and that “it would have gone a long way to coerce local communities to act as an immigration authority.”

California Senator Barbara Boxer said after the vote that local police officials had warned her that undocumented individuals would be afraid to report crimes if there were a chance they would be deported.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued a statement saying that [the anti-sanctuary city bill] “was another attempt to scapegoat hardworking immigrants, enrich for-profit detention facilities, and promote hate instead of unity.

“Punitive legislation like this,” Trumka said, “undermines the rights of all working people and enable abuse by unscrupulous employers.”

Photo: The right-wing bill that failed in the Senate was intended to punish cities like San Francisco (pictured).   |   Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP


Larry Rubin
Larry Rubin

Larry Rubin has been a union organizer, a speechwriter and an editor of union publications. He was a civil rights organizer in the Deep South and is often invited to speak on applying Movement lessons to today's challenges. He has produced several folk music shows.