WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) this week introduced legislation that delivers tough financial consequences to states that flout federal immigration enforcement and harm public safety and national security. Senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) are cosponsoring the legislation, and Congressman Ken Buck (R-Co.) is leading twenty-one members in introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
The Stop Greenlighting Driver Licenses for Illegal Immigrants Act blocks certain federal funds to sanctuary states, including states that defy federal immigration enforcement or that allow illegal aliens to get driver licenses without proof of lawful presence.
“West Virginians believe that our immigration laws should be enforced,” said Senator Capito, Chairman of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee. “State governments should not circumvent—or blatantly obstruct—federal immigration law by providing driver licenses to those who choose to enter this country in violation of our laws. I am pleased to join Senator Blackburn in introducing this common sense bill that penalizes states whose actions are antithetical to the enforcement of federal immigration law.”
“Tennesseans know all too well what can happen when illegal immigrants are granted driver licenses,” said Senator Blackburn. “While Tennessee and many other states prohibit driver licenses for illegal aliens, a growing number of states are moving in the opposite direction and unleashing dangerous open borders policies. Immigrants must follow the proper federal process and obtain citizenship or lawful status before obtaining a state driver license. In America, no one is above the law.”
This legislation is the latest in a string of efforts to crack down on sanctuary cities and states and ensure that state and local governments are cooperating with immigration enforcement officials. Last week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced it would be cutting New York out of the Global Trusted Traveler program following a new state law prohibiting immigration agents from accessing motor vehicle records. On Monday, Attorney General Bill Barr announced multiple lawsuits against sanctuary jurisdictions.
Senator Capito is also a co-sponsor of the Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act and the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act. The Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act, introduced by Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), and supported by President Donald Trump in his State of Union address, would allow victims of violent crime to sue a local jurisdiction for damages that result from a failure to detain or notify DHS about the release of an illegal immigrant pursuant to a sanctuary city policy.
The Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act, introduced by Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), would withhold certain federal funding from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program and the Economic Development Administration (EDA) from local jurisdictions with a sanctuary city policy.
The Stop Greenlighting Driver Licenses for Illegal Immigrants Act halts certain Department of Justice (DoJ) grant funding to states that defy federal immigration law. Non-complying states will no longer enjoy access to millions of dollars in funding under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program. The JAG program provides substantial support on a yearly basis to states for local law enforcement and criminal justice initiatives. In FY 2019, states that issued driver licenses to illegal immigrants received nearly $53 million from this program. This law will require states that issue driver licenses to illegal aliens or states that fail to share immigration enforcement information with the DHS to return unallocated funds to the JAG program within 30 days. Further, these states will be ineligible to receive future JAG funds until they comply with the driver license and federal information sharing provisions.
The REAL ID Act was passed in the wake of 9/11, after the terrorist hijackers easily obtained state driver licenses allowing them to board planes to launch their deadly attacks. Now, less than 20 years later, over a dozen states are already working to reverse efforts to ensure identification security. Some state laws, like California’s law and New York’s Green Light Law, go further than providing driver licenses to illegal aliens. Many of these sanctuary states also forbid local authorities from transferring information about potentially dangerous criminal aliens to DHS. Just last month, in New York City, a 92-year-old woman was sexually assaulted and brutally murdered by an illegal alien who was released from custody, despite being subject to a federal detainer—due to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s lax sanctuary city policy.
The bill text is available here.
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