Nativism Watch

Rep. Barletta and nativist movement target inclusive ‘sanctuary’ policies


Imagine2050 Staff • Jul 10, 2015
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In the wake of the fatal shooting of Kate Steinle in San Francisco last week, the anti-immigrant movement’s allies in Congress have been working hard to exploit this tragedy for their own political ends–by introducing legislation, as well as bringing pressure to bear on the Administration.

Targeting Sanctuary Cities in Congress

Rep. Lou Barletta

In a press release yesterday, Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) announced that he would reintroduce legislation to withhold federal funds from

jurisdictions with so-called sanctuary policies. These are the same policies that seek to improve relations between police and immigrant communities and are in use by over 300 jurisdictions throughout the country. Additionally, a federal court has ruled that these ICE holds lack probable cause and are unconstitutional, so there’s that.

Barletta’s attack shouldn’t come as any surprise though, as he is one of the staunchest congressional allies of the organized anti-immigrant movement. In addition to serving on the advisory board of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), he is also a member of the FAIR-affiliated House Immigration Reform Caucus (IRC).

Barletta first introduced the Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Act in 2011, his first year in Congress. In its May 2011 newsletter, FAIR celebrated Barletta’s legislation and lauded the freshman congressman for “rapidly emerging as a leader for true immigration reform at the federal level.”

Barletta was already well-acquainted with FAIR prior to joining Congress. As mayor of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, he oversaw the costly legal battle over an anti-immigrant housing ordinance. FAIR has noted that it “worked closely” with Barletta to draft the ordinance. FAIR’s legal arm, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), unsuccessfully defended the ordinance in court and now the city of Hazleton faces up to $2.8 million in potential legal fees. Despite these significant costs, Barletta recently said he does not regret fighting to implement the unconstitutional ordinance.

Barletta is not the only member of Congress to target sanctuary policies.

Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK) have also recently introduced similar legislation. Earlier this week, virulently anti-immigrant Senator Jeff Sessions told The Daily Caller that sanctuary cities should not receive federal funds and organized a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson that was deeply critical of such policies.

The Anti-Immigrant Movement Amplifies the Message

The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), the anti-immigrant movement’s disingenuous think thank, is in lock step with its allies in Congress targeting sanctuary policies with an increased fervor. Yesterday, it released a map of sanctuary states, counties, and cities. And earlier today The New York Times published an op-ed by CIS board member Jan Ting calling on Congress to “enact a ban on federal funding and spending in jurisdictions with sanctuary policies.”

It is in their public disdain for sensible police strategies that organizations like CIS and its allies in Congress reveal their true goals.

Instead of fostering relationships between communities and law enforcement, nativist leaders strive to implement overzealous enforcement measures that malign immigrants.

CIS Executive Director Mark Krikorian has recently taken to calling this “broken-windows immigration policing.”

Ironically, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, arguably one of the country’s biggest proponents of “broken-windows” policing, sued the federal government in defense of sanctuary policies in 1996.

Giuliani’s words announcing that legal challenge say it all:

“I believe the anti-immigration movement in America is one of our most serious public problems,” Guiliani said. “And Washington is only making the problem worse. I am speaking out and filing this action because I believe that a threat to immigration can be a threat to the future of our country. Just as they did in years past, immigrants today revitalize and reinvigorate the culture and economy of our cities and states.”

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