Congressman Introduces Bill to Penalize Officials Over Sanctuary Policies

December 4, 2017 Updated: December 5, 2017

WASHINGTON—Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) introduced a bill to the House on Monday that would punish officials who implement sanctuary policies in their jurisdictions.

Violators of the law, “Stopping Lawless Actions of Politicians (SLAP) Act of 2017,” could be sentenced to 5 years in federal prison and be fined up to $1 million.

Sanctuary policies often curtail or outright forbid local law enforcement to cooperate and communicate with federal immigration authorities, even when it concerns a convicted criminal alien in local custody.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) place detainers on illegal immigrants who are in jails and ask law enforcement to hold the inmate for up to 48 hours longer so ICE can take custody. Often a detainer is placed on an inmate well before the inmate is due to be released, meaning local jails would not need to hold the inmate longer, but would just need to alert ICE of the planned release date.

The sanctuary debate has been growing in the United States, especially after the fatal shooting of Kate Steinle in June 2015 by an illegal immigrant who had been released from a San Francisco jail despite a detainer request being placed on him.

Epoch Times Photo
A photo of Kate Steinle (R) is placed on an easel as her father Jim Steinle (2nd L) prepares to testify about her death during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, on July 21, 2015. Jim testified that Kate’s last words, as she died in his arms were, “Help me, Dad.” (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo)

On Nov. 30, a San Francisco jury acquitted Steinle’s killer, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, on all but a gun possession charge. Zarate, a Mexican national, had prior felony convictions and had been deported five times previously.

“Americans are dying because politicians sworn to uphold the law refuse to do so,” Rokita said in a statement on Dec. 4. “Politicians don’t get to pick and choose what laws to comply with. It’s time the federal government gets serious about enforcing immigration laws and holding politicians accountable who conspire to break them.”   

California passed a new sanctuary law on Oct. 5 that will make the whole state a sanctuary for illegal aliens. Senate Bill 54 is slated to take effect on Jan. 1, 2018, and forbids local and state law enforcement from communicating with immigration authorities about when an inmate will be released—except under special circumstances.

Rokita also said he also supports Kate’s Law, named after Steinle. The law seeks to increase the penalties for illegal aliens who attempt to re-enter the United States after deportation.

Kate’s Law passed the House over the summer and is on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) desk waiting to be introduced to the Senate.

Text of the Proposed Bill

The bill proposes to amend title 18, United States Code, to provide penalties for certain obstructions of the enforcement of federal immigration laws.

Chapter 73 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding: § 1522. Certain obstructions of enforcement of immigration laws.

‘‘Whoever, being a state or local official having custody of an individual, knowingly ignores a request from the federal government for the custody of that individual, if the requesting authority has designated that individual as a violator of the immigration laws, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”

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