Senate Panel Approves Legislation Targeting Sanctuary Cities

HARRISBURG — The Senate Local Government Committee endorsed legislation yesterday that would prevent municipalities from hindering federal efforts to deport illegal immigrants who pose a danger to Pennsylvania communities.

Senate Bill 997, sponsored by Senator Rich Alloway (R-33), targets “sanctuary cities” that refuse to honor detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement for persons of interest who are arrested by local authorities.

Under the bill, governing bodies such as counties or municipalities would be prohibited from adopting rules or ordinances that contradict federal immigration policy. Municipalities that do not enforce federal immigration policy would not be eligible for state grants for law enforcement purposes and could be sued for negligence for releasing an individual with a detainer who subsequently committed another crime.

“Cooperation with federal customs officials is the surest way to accomplish two goals shared by members of both political parties – promoting safer communities and holding criminals accountable for their actions,” Alloway said. “It is essential to draw a sharp distinction between those who come to our communities with good intentions and those who would do us harm. There is no good rationale for thumbing our nose at the federal government in order to protect criminals who have no legal right to be in our state or our country.”

Alloway introduced the proposal after the issue gained national attention when San Francisco resident Kathryn Steinle was shot by Francisco Sanchez, an illegal immigrant from Mexico with seven felony convictions who has been deported five times. Due to the municipality’s policy not to report Sanchez’s incarceration to the appropriate federal agency, he was promptly released just prior to Steinle’s murder.

Senate Bill 997 was sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.

CONTACT: Jeremy Shoemaker (717) 787-4651