HARRISBURG –Seeking to promote greater public safety, the State Senate yesterday approved legislation sponsored by Senator Guy Reschenthaler (R-37) to prevent municipalities from obstructing federal efforts to deport illegal immigrants who pose a danger to Pennsylvania communities and residents.
Senate Bill 10 prohibits governing bodies such as counties or municipalities from adopting rules or ordinances that contradict federal immigration policy. The bill passed with a bipartisan and veto-proof majority. The final vote was 37-12.
“I am grateful for the overwhelming support from my Senate colleagues,” Reschenthaler stated. “It is encouraging to see such strong support from both Democrat and Republican colleagues for a bill to end sanctuary cities.”
These so-called “Sanctuary Cities” are commonly defined as municipalities where officials deliberately ignore requests from the federal government to detain illegal immigrants and do not report the individuals to the Department of Homeland Security for deportation.
The legislation would require cities and counties to honor detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for persons of interest who are arrested by local authorities.
Reschenthaler said on the Senate floor the issue gained national attention when Kathryn Steinle was shot by Francisco Sanchez, an illegal immigrant from Mexico with seven felony convictions who had been deported five times. However, due to the city of San Francisco’s policy not to report Sanchez’s incarceration to the appropriate federal agency, he was released and Kathryn was murder a few months later.
“Sanctuary cities are dangerous and irresponsible. 1,800 crimes in 2014, including over 121 murders in a few year span, is a steep price to pay so that sanctuary city legislators can score cheap political points,” Reschenthaler said. “Refusing to honor federal detainer requests for dangerous criminals already in police custody increases the likelihood of those dangerous criminals returning to our communities, putting the public at greater risk.”
Under the bill, municipalities that do not enforce federal immigration policy would not be eligible for state grants and could be sued for negligence for releasing an individual with a detainer who subsequently committed another crime.
Senate Bill 10 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Aaron Bonnaure, 717-787-5839