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Safe Havens for Illegal Immigrants in U.S. Targeted by GOP

A GROUP OF REPUBLICANS has introduced legislation designed to “send a loud and clear message” to an increasing number of “sanctuary cities” across the nation that provide safe harbor to illegal aliens, including violent criminals.

The bill, authored by Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Fla.), would make illegal immigration a felony and specify that state and local officials have existing authority to investigate, identify, apprehend and transfer to federal authorities any illegal alien seized in the course of routine duties.

At present, most illegal aliens, if apprehended at all, are released on never-kept promises to appear at deportation hearings, or, at the most, simply shipped home where they re-cross the border at their leisure.

By defining illegal entry as a felony, lawmen can deal firmly with illegal aliens, estimated to number between 14 million and 20 million.

The Accountability in Enforcing Immigration Laws Act would also require U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to take illegal aliens into custody or pay state and local governments per-diem rates to detain them until removed.

“It’s the counties and cities that get hit hardest by illegal immigration,” said Rep. Brian Bilbray (Calif.), chairman of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus and a co-sponsor of the bill. In San Diego County alone, he said, taxpayers are footing a $101 million a year bill for the health care and public safety costs of illegal immigration.

“During a time when our borders are being used as gateways for terrorists, drug cartels and human smuggling . . . there is no justification for knowingly providing illegal immigrants with sanctuary from detection, arrest and prosecution,” he said.

Mrs. Brown-Waite described sanctuary cities as those with ordinances that prevent cooperation between local police and federal immigration authorities. She said some police departments are prohibited from checking a person’s immigration status in the course of routine duties.

By failing to notify immigration authorities, she said, these “wrong-headed policies” ensure that illegal aliens who have been ordered deported or might be on terrorist watch lists will remain at large in the community.

“When cities proclaim they will not check immigration status, they essentially become a safe haven for not only out-of-status immigrants, but criminal aliens who have often committed violent atrocities in our country,” she said.

The bill would withhold 25% of non-emergency Homeland Security funding for sanctuary cities and would authorize $1 billion for a federal program that provides money to states and localities for jailing criminal aliens.

Mrs. Brown-Waite also cited thwarted terrorist plots in New York, South Carolina and Germany as examples of the continued desire of radicals to inflict harm on the United States.

(Issue #41, October 8, 2007)

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