Let's put an end to sanctuary cities and efforts to obstruct construction of border wall

By Luther Strange

August 28, 2017

Imagine having to come to terms with the fact that the death of a loved one was entirely preventable, and fully the responsibility of a government that failed to do its job. 

The death of Kate Steinle in San Francisco in 2015 was at the hands of man who had been deported from the United States five times.

Sarah Root was killed by a drunk driver in Iowa who was in the U.S. illegally.

The 2009 deaths of Tad Mattle and Leigh Jimmerson in my home state of Alabama were attributed to an illegal alien with three previous arrests for drunk driving, all under an alias.

The results of the 2016 elections showed that Americans are tired of the lack of action on this issue. When President Trump and I arrived in Washington, there was a new sense that the crisis of illegal immigration would now be taken seriously.

In making this crisis a rallying cry of his campaign, the president knew that the facts were on his side. Illegal aliens are more likely to commit criminal offenses than U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

According to the Government Accountability Office, criminal aliens make up 25 percent - 27 percent of the federal prison population, and upon encountering law enforcement, they average over eight arrests each.

Beyond describing a high crime rate, the data tells us that criminal aliens are repeatedly given the opportunity to offend again, with deadly results for our citizens.

Under President Obama, we saw an unwarranted extension of amnesty programs which neglected the root of the illegal immigration crisis. We saw a troubling lack of urgency in addressing the sanctuary cities which subvert the rule of law.

Beginning with an executive order signed during his first week in office, President Trump made it clear that sanctuary cities will be the focus of federal enforcement and the full weight of the rule of law.

I am committed to helping him in this effort with my bill, the Securing the Border and Protecting Our Communities Act, which would give United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice a new tool in the fight to restore order to sanctuary cities.

My bill offers two simple outcomes: sanctuary jurisdictions can either follow the law, or fund the wall. Failure to comply with federal authorities, and efforts to interfere with the lawful pursuit of border wall contracts by local businesses, will be met with the loss of federal infrastructure grant funding. These funds will go toward the construction of our border wall.

Recently, California state lawmakers advanced a measure to prohibit the state from awarding contracts to any company involved in the wall’s construction. Similar measures have been introduced or considered in New York, Rhode Island, and San Francisco. The city of Berkley, Calif., adopted a “black list” to cut off any funds to companies or contractors that want to assist with the building of the border wall.

Penalizing businesses for joining in this critical national security effort is beyond the pale. I introduced this bill to make it clear that cities do not get to play games with the safety of their people or ignore clear federal statutes.

We face a challenge, both urgent and important, which poses tough questions: How many innocent Americans will die before security becomes the first priority of immigration reform? How many criminal aliens will elude justice before the rule of law is reaffirmed as the first priority of a functioning society?

As President Donald Trump’s administration continues to meet illegal immigration with the grave attention it deserves, I offer my bill to the President as a potent tool for fulfilling promises. 

Strange is the junior senator from Alabama.