Immigration hardliners are threatening to hold potentially billions of dollars in state grants hostage as they seek to compel so-called sanctuary cities to cooperate with federal law enforcement officials.
Legislators in 33 states have introduced measures to limit or prevent cities from acting as sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants. Only one state this year, Mississippi, has enacted a ban on sanctuary jurisdictions, but several others, including Texas, Indiana, Iowa, Florida and Georgia, are advancing their own bills.
Sanctuary cities and counties often defy requests from federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to hold undocumented immigrants so they can be picked up later for deportation. While there is no technical legal definition of a sanctuary city, many of the bills under consideration would require cities to swear under penalty of perjury that they comply with federal detainer requests.
“If a city calls itself a sanctuary city, that means a lot of different things to a lot of different cities,” said Pennsylvania state Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R), who has sponsored a ban on what his legislation calls “municipalities of refuge.”
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