Immigration News Today: Obama Advisers Recommend Veto of Anti-Sanctuary City Bill S. 2146
President Barack Obama's advisers have recommended him to veto a controversial legislation that could strip federal grants and funds for more than 350 jurisdictions.
The "Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act" (S. 2146), introduced by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., would reprimand U.S. cities and jurisdictions for not complying with federal law enforcement in regards to a detained undocumented immigrant. The bill would implement a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in jail, and no more than 20 years, for undocumented immigrants who re-enter the U.S. and were previously convicted of a crime.
For any U.S. jurisdiction that would not comply with federal agents in regards to a specified detained immigrant, the bill would limit or cease federal grants to those jurisdictions, often referred to as "sanctuary cities."
Ahead of the Senate's scheduled to vote on S. 2146 on Tuesday, the Obama administration released a statement in opposition to Vitter's bill.
According to the statement from the executive office of the president via the Office of Management and Budget, the Obama administration "strongly opposes" S. 2146. The administration claimed Vitter's bill fails to offer comprehensive immigration reform, reiterating and agreeing that the current immigration system is "broken." The statement noted the bill "undermines" the administration's efforts to deport "the most dangerous convicted criminals."
"The bill would also jeopardize the ability of State and local governments to receive Federal funding that is critical to their efforts to ensure public safety and to tackle serious problems facing their communities. For some jurisdictions, it 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 Obama administration statement read.
If Obama was presented with S. 2146, his senior advisers have recommended the president to veto the legislation.
The administration called for comprehensive immigration reform, similar to the 2013 Senate bill "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act" (S.744). The administration suggested legislation that would strengthen border security, penalize employers hiring undocumented workers, offer a pathway to citizenship ending background check and tax payments and "go to the back of the line."
Vitter's bill, introduced on Oct. 10, has also received cosponsor support from Republican presidential candidates Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Rubio was also a cosponsor in the Senate's 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill.
Immigrant-rights groups have also urged lawmakers to reject S. 2146. The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) said Vitter's bill would "devastate community safety" and incite more fear within immigrant communities. In a statement by NILC executive director Marielena Hincapié, she said immigrants will be cautious to report crimes or serve as witnesses as a result of S. 2146.
"Under the proposal by Sen. Vitter, communities would be forced to choose between building trust with immigrants or maintaining grants for programs that help low -- and moderate -- income families and seniors," Hincapié said. "Before they vote, senators should remember it is wrong to play with the lives of real people, that they should not be used as chips in the political game of anti-immigrant politics."
Carlos A. Sanchez, coordinator of political campaigns for People For the American Way, a progressive organization, said Republicans are unable to detach themselves from political pandering from sound policymaking.
"It's unconscionable that Senate Republicans are pushing forward this bill that undermines local efforts to improve public safety for their residents. With their support for this bill, it's clear that presidential candidates Senator Rubio and Senator Cruz side with Donald Trump and not the millions of hardworking Latino and other immigrant families here today," said Sanchez.
Following the announcement S. 2146 will be voted on Tuesday afternoon, Vitter reiterated one of the purposes of the bill was the response to the death of Kathryn Steinle by an undocumented immigrant. Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, who was deported from the U.S. on five occasions due to drug-related felonies, allegedly shot Steinle in San Francisco.
"Sanctuary cities and the associated violent crimes by illegal immigrants are reaching a critical point, and we cannot wait any longer to take action to protect Americans here at home. There is simply no incentive for these localities to enforce current immigration laws, and my legislation will make sure sanctuary cities are no longer rewarded for their failures to uphold the law," Vitter said in a statement.
"As the Senate debates the Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act, I urge my colleagues to remember Kate Steinle's vicious murder and the tens of thousands of crimes committed by illegal immigrants within our borders," Vitter said.
During Tuesday afternoon, the bill was blocked from advancing as it failed to require 60 votes. Rubio and Cruz did vote in favor of the bill.
For the latest updates, follow Latin Post's Politics Editor Michael Oleaga on Twitter: @EditorMikeO or contact via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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