On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid mobilized his caucus to block two anti-immigrant proposals backed by the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The first measure would have defunded the so-called ‘Sanctuary Cities.’ These are cities that limit police cooperation with ICE in immigration enforcement. The limits are in place because the perception of police functioning as part of the deportation system has alienated many immigrant communities from local police.
The bill was introduced by Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey in response to fear mongering on the Presidential campaign trail. The bill would deprive local law enforcement of critical federal funding if they adopted policies towards immigrants responsive to local conditions. Toomey’s own state’s largest city, Philadelphia, would be among those that would be made less safe through the loss of Federal dollars.
Politico reports that Toomey has taken up the anti-immigrant cause because he is in a tough re-election fight in a state in which only 5% of the voters are Latino.
See the Politico’s report HERE.
Also defeated yesterday was a bill from Texas Senator Ted Cruz that would have set draconian criminal penalties for certain immigration violations. The bill would have mandated five years in Federal prison for immigrants who entered the United States without authorization multiple times. The Cruz bill failed by five votes.
Molly Gill, director of legislative affairs for Families Against Mandatory Minimums said that “Like all mandatory minimum sentences, passing [Cruz’s bill] might feel good, but it won’t make us safer.” According to Gill, “requiring courts to send all immigration violators to federal prison for at least five years might lock up some violent people longer, but it will definitely lock up many, many nonviolent ones longer. This mandate will cost billions of dollars, dollars better spent on fighting terrorism or supporting law enforcement and victims.”
Read Gill’s statement HERE.
Given the wildly anti-immigrant rhetoric of some politicians, we are seeing Congress used for publicity stunts by elected representatives with immigrants as their targets.