A freshman U.S. congressman, who in 2006 made headlines when he signed a law that cracked down on undocumented immigrants as the mayor of a Pennsylvania town, is now focusing his first legislative effort on stripping all federal funding to “sanctuary” cities that fail to enforce federal immigration laws.
Republican Rep. Lou Barletta said he expects to formally introduce the bill within a few weeks. The bill will attempt to “crack down on cities whose elected officials have willfully chosen not to enforce immigration policy by withholding all federal funding from them as long as their sanctuary policies are in place,” he said, during a press conference.
The legislation, called the “Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Act,” would target more than 100 cities, where Barletta believes federal immigration policy is not being enforced. If the legislation is adopted cities could face losing all federal funding.
“Local officials who choose not to enforce immigration laws are aiding illegal immigrants,” Barletta said. “My bill makes sure that sanctuary cities no longer get federal money as long as federal officials ignore federal law.”
Barletta also announced on Wednesday that he was creating a new congressional caucus that will offer ways to stop undocumented immigrants from entering the U.S. Referred to as the 112th Congress Immigration Reform Caucus, Barletta is currently looking for members to join him.
“I’m putting together a group of freshman members to address the problem of illegal immigration in this country,” Barletta said in a statement on Wednesday. “I’m optimistic that other new members of Congress who are concerned about our flawed immigration system will join this caucus so we can devise some real solutions.”
The congressman’s vision of how to deal with undocumented immigration stands in stark contrast to that of the Obama Administartion, which while tightening security at the nation’s borders also plans for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. Many Republicans argue that the pathway to citizenship is a form of amnesty and oppose the plan.
“The President reaffirmed that he will continue to work to forge bipartisan consensus and will intensify efforts to lead a civil debate on this issue in the coming weeks and months,” said the White House readout of Tuesday’s meeting between Obama and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Photo: U.S. House of Representatives @ Wikicommons.