- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 9, 2017

A prominent congressman said Thursday that he won’t help advance any funding requests from sanctuary cities, saying he’s taking a personal stand in trying to stop jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate in deporting illegal immigrants.

Counties, cities and school boards line up each year to beg their members of Congress to put in a good word for them when the federal government is working on its annual spending bills, hoping to garner a piece of the federal pie.

But Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, said he won’t be involved in any request filed by a jurisdiction that tries to thwart federal agents.

“Sanctuaries that defy federal immigration laws should be held accountable,” Mr. Hunter said. “If a state or local entity prefers to violate the law and not cooperate on federal immigration matters, this should be an immediate disqualifier for federal funding.

He challenged other members of Congress to refuse as well, hoping they can exert pressure from Capitol Hill to try to rein in the growing number of cities that say they’ll become sanctuaries.

Federal law requires local authorities to cooperate with federal agents, but sanctuary cities order their police to disregard that obligation. The movement has grown in recent months as immigrant rights groups pressure communities to resist what they fear will be a crackdown by the new Trump administration.

Sanctuary advocates say localities shouldn’t play a role in helping advance federal law. Advocates also say that immigrants, including those here legally, become fearful of reporting crimes if they think their local officers are involved with federal agents.

President Trump last month signed an executive order instructing his attorney general and Homeland Security secretary to look at what funds they can strip from sanctuary cities.

Mr. Hunter’s move goes even deeper, however, resisting cities who seek earmarked funds for everything from construction and road projects to grants.

Mr. Hunter will ask any local government that comes to his office seeking federal funding to certify it’s not a sanctuary, and will also conduct his own review to make sure requesters aren’t thwarting the law.

His move could add yet another layer of troubles for sanctuaries, who are frightened at the prospect of losing federal funds.

Miami-Dade County already reversed its sanctuary policy in order to comply with Mr. Trump’s new executive order.

And two cities in Massachusetts, Lawrence and Chelsea, filed a lawsuit Wednesday asking a federal judge to certify that they are not sanctuaries, hoping to stave off the loss of money.

City leaders blasted Mr. Trump for targeting sanctuaries, and said he had better things to do with his time.

“Shame on him for bringing this type of light on communities like ours,” said Dan Rivera, mayor of Lawrence. “Poor people in red states — nobody’s going to get a new job because of this.”

Chelsea actually bills itself as a sanctuary, even though it’s arguing in court that it isn’t.

Lawrence, meanwhile, “has perhaps the most egregious sanctuary policy in Massachusetts,” according to Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies.

Ms. Vaughan said cities have been on notice since last year that they could lose law enforcement grant money if they didn’t cooperate with federal authorities, and she said they’ve had plenty of time to adjust their policies.

“Instead of wasting their residents’ tax dollars on dubious lawsuits like this, they should simply cooperate with ICE, as they would with any other law enforcement agency, and refrain from releasing deportable criminal aliens back to the streets to victimize others,” she said.

At the White House, spokesman Sean Spicer said the sanctuary issue was a matter of both public safety and of taxpayers’ money. He said federal money shouldn’t go to help cities that attempt to thwart federal agents.

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