While 'Steel City' considers 'sanctuary' status, citizens suffer
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Imagine walking down the street with your daughter on a warm summer evening on the local pier when a gunman opens fire. Your daughter is hit, and you hold her as she begs you to help her stay alive.

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Now imagine that you find out the man who murdered your daughter before your very eyes has an extensive criminal record. He had been in police custody just a few months beforehand, but because he happened to be caught in a so-called “sanctuary city,” he was allowed to be released over the objections of federal authorities.

 

Sounds inflammatory? That nightmare scenario happened to Jim Steinle, who lost his daughter due to San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy.

In Philadelphia, a child’s life has been destroyed after an illegal immigrant allegedly raped the minor. The man, who had previously been deported before entering the U.S. once again, was nevertheless allowed to make bail over the objections of federal law enforcement because, you guessed it, Philadelphia is also a sanctuary city.

The lives of countless U.S. citizens have been devastated as a result of sanctuary cities policies, which forces local police to ignore the requests of federal authorities with regards to illegal immigration.

Sanctuary cities are a sign of a liberal agenda gone mad, a way for local politicians to tout their far-left credentials at the expense of their constituents.

Despite sharing a Commonwealth with Philadelphia, Pittsburgh has sadly learned nothing from the disastrous results of that policy. Just yesterday, a source told PublicSource.org that Pittsburgh’s city council was mulling a shift to a more formal sanctuary city plan.

Whether passed formally or enacted informally, such a plan will put the lives of Pittsburgh’s citizens in danger.  

The Republican Party of Pennsylvania opposes any attempt to make Pittsburgh a sanctuary city in the strongest possible terms.

Here in Pennsylvania, sanctuary cities took center stage in our recent U.S. Senate election, in which Pat Toomey ran on his record of keeping Pennsylvanians safe.

As one of the prime sponsors of the Stop Sanctuary Cities Act, Pat Toomey has been on the front lines of this heated debate. I am proud of the work he’s done on what should be a commonsense issue.

“(Sanctuary cities) stop local police from enforcing our immigration laws,” Senator Toomey said earlier this year. “They make a mockery of even modest attempts to deal with our badly broken immigration system.”

During that campaign, dozens and dozens of county district attorneys and sheriffs voiced their public opposition to sanctuary city policies such as the one enacted in Philadelphia, because our local law enforcement should be working with our federal immigration authorities, not against them.

Back in Harrisburg, both our State Senate and State House have passed measures in October aimed that would hold Pennsylvania communities liable for any damage caused by an illegal immigrant who’s convicted of a crime.

Just a few weeks after that measure, Pennsylvania voters voted to keep our State House in Republican control, expand our State Senate to a veto-proof majority, re-elect U.S. Senator Pat Toomey and, yes, elected a Republican president for the first time since 1988.

Pennsylvanians want our government and law enforcement officials to work together. They don’t want to have their local law enforcement have their hands tied by overzealous public officials who are more concerned about making a political statement than protecting our communities.

Opposition to sanctuary city policies will also keep America’s legal immigrants safe.

Every year, our country is proud to welcome more than 1 million new legal immigrants who come to America seeking the promises and opportunities that come with living in our country. No American should have their safety and their life put in danger because local officials refuse to follow the law of the land.

The platform of the Republican Party takes a strong stance against sanctuary cities, calling for the end to federal funding for any place which partakes in such a practice.

Even the Obama administration, not exactly a bastion of conservative thinking, has criticized this unsafe policy.

Just ask Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, who last year referred to sanctuary cities as “counterproductive to public safety.”

Our law enforcement works best when it works together. No one should ever have to worry about the safety of their families and friends because of the dangerously flawed policies of a few extreme liberals.

Our party is proud to stand up for public safety, and we will ensure that the voices of all Pennsylvanians who oppose sanctuary cities will be heard in the weeks and months ahead.

Rob Gleason is the chairman of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania.


The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.