Toomey backs holding money from sanctuary cities

Backing Trump: “I was pleased to see President Trump take this preliminary step to help end dangerous sanctuary cities. This is a critical issue of public safety, which I have pursued since 2015,” U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey said regarding sanctuary cities. TIMES FILE PHOTO

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey and the Philadelphia Republican Party are supporting President Donald Trump’s executive order instructing the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to investigate ways to withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities.

Mayor Jim Kenney has deemed Philadelphia a sanctuary city.

Sanctuary cities forbid their local law enforcement officers from cooperating with federal immigration officials.

Toomey recently reintroduced his Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act.

Rep. Diane Black, a Tennessee Republican, is introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

The legislation withholds certain federal funds from sanctuary cities.

Last year, Toomey’s bill was supported by a vote of 53–44, but needed 60 votes to pass. Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey Jr. voted against it, as did all but two Democrats. Only one Republican opposed it.

Toomey said, “I was pleased to see President Trump take this preliminary step to help end dangerous sanctuary cities. This is a crucial issue of public safety, which I have pursued since 2015. I was especially pleased to see that President Trump adopted my approach of attempting to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities. While this is an important first step, more needs to be done, as President Trump is limited in what he can accomplish through executive order. We need legislation to ensure local police are not subject to lawsuits for good-faith efforts to cooperate with federal law enforcement to remove dangerous criminals and terrorists from our streets. And only Congress can act to withhold millions of dollars of formula grants and thus provide the incentive needed to prompt sanctuary cities to change their policies.

“It is crucial we end dangerous sanctuary cities. America has repeatedly seen the devastating effects of sanctuary city policies. In Philadelphia, we have seen three child molesters — two charged and one convicted — released onto the streets due to the city’s sanctuary city policy. San Francisco’s policy led to the release of an illegal immigrant — previously convicted of seven felonies and deported five times before — who went on to murder 32-year-old Kate Steinle. I will continue to fight to protect our communities from violent criminals and suspected terrorists who are in the U.S. illegally. I call on Congress to join me, and pass my Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act.”

Joe DeFelice, chairman of the Philadelphia Republican Party, said, “From the release of a child rapist from the Dominican Republican to that of an Italian drug smuggler, Philadelphians have already been put in direct danger by Mayor Kenney’s policy of blocking local law enforcement from participating with federal immigration authorities. Nobody really thinks that a policy that shelters illegal immigrants who are arrested for committing crimes in Philadelphia makes us safer — the mayor’s defense is simply an obfuscation which relies on the patronizing notion that our local police would round up victims and witnesses of crime for deportation, as if that would somehow be beneficial to solving crimes.

“Now, with President Trump’s welcome announcement that his administration will prioritize fighting this insane and illegal policy — specifically by withholding federal funds — Mayor Kenney endangers the fiscal health of the city as well. With a rising tax burden and a looming pensions crisis on the horizon, Mayor Kenney appears to govern so much at the whim of the radical progressive wing of his party that he will forsake the rest of us in the meantime.”

Meanwhile, state Rep. Martina White (R-170th dist.) last week released a co-sponsorship memo asking House members to add their names to what will be known as House Bill 28 of 2017.

“In the last session, the House passed my legislation — House Bill 1885 — to allow those injured by illegal immigrants to sue sanctuary cities and municipalities that refuse to co-operate with federal immigration officials,” White said. “Unfortunately, the session ended without the bill reaching the governor’s desk. We remain committed to keeping citizens safe and holding our cities accountable.”

The bill passed, 136–55. Local representatives voting for it were White, Republicans Tom Murt and John Taylor and Democrats Mike Driscoll and Ed Neilson. Democrat Jason Dawkins voted against it. Democrat Kevin Boyle did not vote.

White’s memo was released the day after Trump signed an executive order to investigate which federal funds could be withheld from sanctuary cities.

White labeled Kenney stubborn, adding that he has shown a willful disregard for federal law.

“It is an insult to the citizens of Philadelphia that Mayor Kenney would willfully disobey federal law and continue to ignore the negative impact his dangerous policy has had on our citizens,” she said, “Just this past year, a child was raped by an illegal immigrant after having been released due to the sanctuary city policy. It’s not the mayor’s choice which laws he wants to uphold and which ones he wants to disregard.” ••