Jun 20 2013
Senator Calls for an End to “Sanctuary Cities”
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today spoke on the Senate floor about his amendments to help solve America’s broken immigration system. Senator Wicker’s comments took place during the Senate’s discussion of the immigration reform bill, S. 744, known as the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.”
“I continue to have serious concerns about the bill’s enforcement and accountability requirements,” Wicker said. “According to a recent report issued by the independent Congressional Budget Office, the border security components in the immigration bill would reduce illegal immigration by only 25 percent – far short of what the bill’s supporters would have us believe.
“Enforcement of the law must be effective. To achieve this goal, I have authored a number of amendments to promote greater fairness and accountability in the immigration bill. One of these, which I hope will be brought to a vote, would work to end so-called ‘sanctuary cities.’ If our borders are secure, if this bill is supposed to work as promised, then we cannot permit areas to flout the law by remaining or becoming ‘sanctuary cities’ after the bill’s enactment.”
Below are descriptions of the six amendments that Senator Wicker has introduced to improve the immigration reform bill:
End ‘Sanctuary Cities’: The term refers to any state or jurisdiction that has a policy, practice, or law that prohibits state or local police from assisting federal authorities in enforcing immigration laws. Under the Wicker amendment, these jurisdictions would be denied State Criminal Alien Assistance Program funds and law enforcement grants from the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice.
The amendment would encourage information-sharing by law enforcement officials and stipulate that individuals who violate the immigration law are included in the National Crime Information Center Database. Finally, it would ensure states have access to federal technology that is helpful in identifying immigrants who are inadmissible or deportable.
Double the Penalty Fees: This amendment would double the penalties – from $1,000 to $2,000 – that illegal immigrants must pay at various steps in the process. A $1,000 penalty amounts to far less than what is often paid to so-called “coyotes” who help smuggle people across the border.
Require the DHS Secretary to Adjust All Fees and Penalties for Inflation: This amendment would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to adjust both the penalties and fees annually for inflation, just as many other federal programs do. Adjusting for inflation annually is a reasonable change – and would help ensure that the fees are actually effective in covering some of the bill’s implementation costs, as intended.
Prohibit Applicants Who Have Filed Frivolous Applications for Asylum: By law, those who knowingly file a frivolous application (containing statements or responses that are deliberately fabricated) are permanently barred from receiving any benefits under the “Immigration and Nationality Act.” The Wicker amendment would strike the ability of illegal immigrants to apply for provisional legal status if they have previously filed a frivolous application for asylum.
Expedite the Removal Proceedings of Illegal Immigrants with Serious Criminal Offenses: This amendment would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to initiate expedited removal proceedings against those who are deemed ineligible for provisional legal status because they belong to a gang; have committed an aggravated felony; or committed an offense against a child or a domestic violence offense.
Ensure Those Found Ineligible Have Their Provisional Legal Status Revoked: This amendment would clarify that the Secretary of Homeland Security should revoke the provisional legal status of an applicant if he or she is found to be ineligible; used fraudulent documentation; or did not fulfill the continuous physical presence requirement in this bill.