By Bill O’Boyle - [email protected]

Barletta blasts judge’s ruling blocking Trump’s order on sanctuary cities

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WILKES-BARRE — U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta blasted a federal district court judge’s ruling which temporarily blocks a portion of President Donald J. Trump’s executive order addressing sanctuary cities.

The judge in San Francisco granted a temporary injunction barring the administration from withholding federal grant money from sanctuary cities, or jurisdictions which refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials or obey immigration law.

However, Barletta said the ruling does not affect the administration’s ability to enforce existing laws, including those which withhold certain federal grant funding to sanctuary cities, nor does it impact the government’s ability to designate jurisdictions as “sanctuaries” or develop regulations governing such jurisdictions.

“It is sadly ironic that an activist judge in San Francisco, the sanctuary city where Kate Steinle was murdered by a criminal illegal immigrant, would rule against the president’s executive order to protect Americans and cut off federal grant funding to these dangerous jurisdictions,” Barletta said. “One of the federal government’s main responsibilities is to protect its citizens, and this misguided ruling runs completely counter to that responsibility.”

Barletta said when you accept federal money, you are accepting the responsibility to be accountable for following federal law. He said it’s time to end the policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in cities that actively work for illegal immigrants, and against immigration laws he said are intended to protect American citizens.

Barletta has authored legislation that would go even farther than the president’s executive order — the Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Act, H.R. 83 — which would stop all federal funds from flowing to states or localities which resist or ban enforcement of federal immigration laws, or flatly refuse to cooperate with immigration officials.

The bill prohibits any federal funding for a minimum period of one year to any state or local government which has a policy or law that prevents them from assisting immigration authorities in enforcing federal immigration law. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) lists about 300 such localities in the U.S.

Barletta’s bill directs the attorney general to compile an annual list of such cities and issue a report on any particular state or locality upon request from a member of Congress. A state or local government would only regain federal funding eligibility after the attorney general certifies that its laws and policies are in compliance with federal immigration statutes. This is the third time he has introduced the legislation.

Barletta said he introduced the bill as his first piece of legislation as a freshman congressman in 2011 because of his personal experience with the danger of sanctuary cities while he was mayor of Hazleton. In 2006, a 29-year-old local father of three, Derek Kichline, was murdered by an illegal immigrant who had been released by law enforcement a number of times, including by the sanctuary city of New York.

Additionally, Barletta was spurred to reintroduce the bill in 2015 following the San Francisco murder of the 32-year-old Steinle, whose accused killer was a seven-time felon who had been deported five times previously.

“Sanctuary cities are dangerous to public safety, and we should stop supporting them with federal tax dollars,” Barletta said. “As a former mayor, I know that no mayor has the right to pick and choose which federal laws to follow, just like American citizens do not have the right to pick and choose which section of the criminal code they want to follow.”

Barletta said he is hopeful that the administration will appeal “this misguided ruling,” and in the meantime he said he will continue to work with his colleagues to ensure that existing laws to keep Americans safe are enforced.

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By Bill O’Boyle

[email protected]

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.