GOP panel adopts proposal to ban funding to 'sanctuary cities'

GOP panel adopts proposal to ban funding to 'sanctuary cities'
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The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday adopted an amendment into a spending bill that would make “sanctuary cities” ineligible for federal grants if they refuse to cooperate with federal officials in immigration cases.

Rep. Kevin YoderKevin Wayne YoderBottom line Bottom line Bottom line MORE (R-Kan.) offered the amendment to a bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security following the recent killing of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco. A felon who was in the United States illegally has been charged in her death.

“It’s simply indefensible to simply harbor violent criminals,” said Yoder, who added that Congress must take action after the tragic incident. “Real people’s lives are at stake here.”

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Cities like San Francisco operate under “sanctuary” laws or practices in which local law enforcement officials fail to cooperate with federal law enforcement in immigration cases.

The suspect in the San Francisco slaying, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, was released in April from a local jail. He had been deported to Mexico five times and San Francisco officials ignored a request from federal immigration officials to notify them when he was set free.

“It’s not fair to scapegoat an entire community because of the action of one individual,” Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) said during the debate.

Price warned that the amendment could result in cities potentially losing millions of dollars that are intended for preventing terrorist attacks or natural disasters.

Last week, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) wrote to Attorney General Loretta Lynch demanding that the Department of Justice limit the availability of taxpayer funds -- which Congress already allocated for 2015 -- to these sanctuary cities.

Other lawmakers introduced legislation that would ban funding for local jurisdictions that don’t cooperate in these cases for the next fiscal year.