GOP Realigns Sites on Sanctuary Cities

A GOP congressman introduces a bill allowing for fines and prison time for elected officials found guilty of sheltering undocumented immigrant criminals from deportation. The bill, introduced by Indiana Rep. Todd Rokita, comes in the wake of the acquittal handed down to the accused undocumented immigrant in the Kate Steinle murder trial in the sanctuary city of San Francisco.

Accused in the case, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate had been deported back to his native Mexico 5 times before the 2015 murder of the 32-year-old Steinle. Steinle’s family and many lawmakers laid fault for the tragedy squarely on San Francisco’s sanctuary policy. Because of the policy, local officials didn’t notify federal immigration authorities about Zarate’s release from jail.

The jury ultimately convicted Zarate only of firearms possession.

President Trump, who frequently cited the Steinle case on the campaign trail when discussing immigration policy, called the verdict “disgraceful” and a “complete travesty of justice.”

The “Stopping Lawless Actions of Politicians (SLAP) Act” holds state and local officials criminally liable for the refusal to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement efforts. Penalties for those convicted under SLAP include a fine of up to $1 million and a prison sentence of up to 5 years.

“Politicians don’t get to pick and choose what laws to comply with,” Rokita says. “Americans are dying because politicians sworn to uphold the law refuse to do so. It’s time the federal government gets serious about enforcing immigration laws and holding politicians accountable who conspire to break them.
Rep. Rokita’s bill, “one of the most aggressive pieces of legislation to date aimed at sanctuary city policies,” according to one report, goes well beyond the threat from the Department of Justice to cut off federal grants to the jurisdictions. However, a similar attempt in Texas to punish local officials ignoring requests from federal immigration officials is currently undergoing a challenge in federal court.