Scarnati explained that House Bill 1885 was passed by the Senate by a vote of 34 to 14 and would help keep our communities safer by prohibiting municipalities in Pennsylvania from designating themselves as “Sanctuary Cities.”
“Sanctuary Cities” are municipalities where officials knowingly give refuge to illegal immigrants charged with committing crimes and do not report the individuals to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) for deportation. In Pennsylvania, Philadelphia has declared itself a Sanctuary City and the mayor has imposed a policy of not cooperating with federal authorities on immigration matters.
House Bill 1885 prohibits governing bodies such as counties or municipalities from adopting rules or ordinances that contradict federal immigration policy. The legislation would require cities and counties to honor detainer requests from ICE for persons of interest who are arrested by local authorities.
“If an individual has no legal right to be in our country, and if they prove to be a danger to the community by getting arrested, then it is horribly irresponsible to put that individual back on the streets with a detainer request pending from the federal government,” Scarnati said. “This legislation will not affect legal immigrants. It only addresses those individuals who are here illegally and could cause harm to our lawful residents.”
Under the bill, 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 commits another crime.
“We cannot allow any municipality to ignore the laws of this land by protecting illegal immigrants charged with committing crimes,” Scarnati said. “This legislation will ensure that the rights and safety of law-abiding citizens will be protected in our Commonwealth.”
House Bill 1885 has been sent back to the House of Representatives for consideration.