Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today delivered the following remarks on the House floor in support of the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act (H.R. 3003).

Chairman Goodlatte: Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act. This simple, straightforward bill combats dangerous sanctuary policies that permit criminals to go free. We are all too familiar with how sanctuary polices have devastated families across the United States. And today, we are taking action to prevent these senseless tragedies and save American lives.

For years, the lack of immigration enforcement and spread of sanctuary policies have cost too many lives. The Obama Administration encouraged, or at the very least turned a blind eye to, jurisdictions nationwide that implemented sanctuary policies designed to prevent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from being able to effectively enforce federal law.  Foolhardy jurisdictions continue to pass legislation and implement policies aimed at stymying and maligning ICE.

Earlier this year, a Baltimore City Council member introduced a resolution calling on ICE to arrest only those posing a “serious risk.” In discussing this initiative, the council member likened ICE officers to Nazis several times.  Such rhetoric is reprehensible – creating a moral equivalence between genocide and a nation exercising a fundamental right and obligation of sovereignty.

In a deeply troubling move on the other coast, San Francisco announced that it would no longer participate in the Joint Terrorism Task Force because of concerns that the task force’s duties may coincide with immigration enforcement.

Sanctuary policies often focus on flouting ICE detainers, notices issued by ICE to allow it to take custody of aliens in law enforcement custody in order to initiate removal proceedings.  These irresponsible policies have led to a sharp drop in ICE’s intake of aliens from criminal detention facilities, which forces ICE agents to engage in the far more time-consuming and dangerous task of picking them up on the streets.  This, among other factors, led to a drop in the number of criminal aliens removed from the interior United States, from almost 87,000 in fiscal year 2014 to approximately 63,500 the following two fiscal years.

We must discourage, not encourage, sanctuary policies and practices.  H.R. 3003 addresses sanctuary policies and also takes great strides in clarifying federal immigration detainer policy.

Since the 1990s, federal law has barred jurisdictions from restricting communication with federal immigration officials regarding immigration status.  However, this provision has never been enforced.

H.R. 3003 amends current law and expands this prohibition against impeding federal law enforcement.  Instead of merely focusing on communication, the bill ensures that no jurisdiction may restrict assistance or compliance with immigration enforcement.  To be clear, this bill imposes no affirmative duty to act on the part of any jurisdiction.

Should a jurisdiction not comply with this provision, the jurisdiction will not be eligible for certain grant programs administered by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security. Eligibility for many of these grant programs is already predicated on compliance with this provision in the Immigration and Nationality Act.  This section is also in line with recent memo by Attorney General Sessions outlining compliance with this provision as the single factor that the Justice Department will use in identifying sanctuary jurisdictions.

Regarding detainer policy, Congress has long heard that jurisdictions will not comply with ICE requests to hold individuals due to a lack of probable cause inherent in the detainer.  I am pleased that H.R. 3003 provides the probable cause standards necessary to ensure that ICE only places detainers on aliens for whom they have probable cause are deportable.  In addition, the bill mandates that ICE must take custody of the subject of a detainer within 48 hours, excluding weekends and holidays.

Jurisdictions comply in good faith with detainer requests will be immune from liability associated with that detainer and, if such an action does arise, the U.S. government will substitute itself in as the defendant.  This ensures that jurisdictions do not go bankrupt defending against never-ending litigation.  And, in those jurisdictions that refuse to honor a detainer resulting in an alien committing a crime, the victim or victim’s family will be provided with the opportunity to bring a lawsuit against that jurisdiction.

The third section of H.R. 3003 is named for Sarah Root and Grant Ronnebeck, two young people whose lives were suddenly taken by criminal aliens who remain at large today.  This section was originally introduced as separate bills by Judiciary Committee members Steve King and Andy Biggs, who worked tirelessly to bring these tragic cases to the attention of the Committee and the Congress.

This section provides that aliens who are arrested or charged with serious crimes that result in death or serious bodily injury of another must be held, without bond, during the pendency of their removal proceedings.  In addition, aliens convicted of even one drunk driving offense will also be ineligible for bond during their removal proceedings.  The latter would have prevented the August 2010 death of Sister Denise Mosier, a Catholic nun in Virginia, at the hands of a drunk driving illegal alien who was released from ICE custody on bond.  These classes of individuals present a clear and present danger to society and should not be permitted to roam our communities during the pendency of their removal hearings.

The common-sense provisions of H.R. 3003 will provide better immigration enforcement and the peace of mind that no criminal will be provided sanctuary from our immigration laws.

For more on the House Judiciary Committee’s efforts to improve our nation’s immigration laws, click here.

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