U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today voted for a measure to ensure that existing immigration law is enforced across the country.
Alexander supported an amendment, authored by U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., to the U.S. Senate Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2008that would withhold Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) federal funding from cities that violate the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA).
“Earlier this year, Congress failed to pass an immigration reform bill that would secure the border and enforce immigration laws,” Alexander said. “Now the least we can do is require local authorities to follow the laws already on the books.”
Specifically, the amendment instructs the U.S. Department of Justice to withhold federal COPS funding from so-called sanctuary cities.
The IIRIRA requires local governments to cooperate with Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But numerous cities are defying the 11-year-old law by adopting "sanctuary policies" to protect illegal immigrants from enforcement. Cities that practice sanctuary policies instruct city employees not to notify the federal government of the presence of illegal aliens living in their communities.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s COPS Office awards grants to state and local law enforcement agencies to advance community policing.
The measure was tabled, or defeated, in the Senate by a vote of 52 to 42. A similar amendment passed the U.S. House of Representatives during debate on their version of the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Bill.