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Opinion: The real cost of sanctuary cities

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During his State of the Union address, President Donald Trump not only celebrated our nation’s accomplishments but reminded us that there is work still left to be done, including addressing our immigration crisis.

The president campaigned on building a wall to help curb illegal immigration. Yet, Democrats have blocked his efforts at every turn, even going so far as to encourage people to come to this country illegally. We have a crisis at our southern border and ignoring it, as Democrats propose, will come at a considerable cost to the American people. It is time that we adopt policies that put American citizens first, and I intend to work with Trump and my colleagues to reform our immigration system.

As you may know, sanctuary cities are municipalities that refuse to enforce federal immigration law by deliberately failing to communicate with federal agencies on the immigration status of individuals in their jurisdiction. Additionally, these cities refuse to aid federal law enforcement agencies in the apprehension of criminals living in the United States illegally. These cities allow illegal immigrants to remain in their jurisdiction even if they are violent criminals, drug dealers, gang members or have been previously deported.

The only sanctuary these cities create is for violent criminals. That is why Attorney General Bill Barr recently announced a slew of sanctions against these left-wing local and state governments who unconstitutionally interfere with federal immigration enforcement.

The Department of Justice this month filed a federal complaint against the state of New Jersey for forbidding state and local law enforcement from sharing vital information about criminals with the Department of Homeland Security. The DOJ filed another suit against King County, Washington, for unlawfully prohibiting DHS from deporting illegal immigrants from the U.S. through King County International Airport.

While the Constitution does give states police power and doesn’t require states to implement or enforce federal immigration law, it clearly prohibits them from actively sabotaging federal immigration officials, which is exactly what these so-called “sanctuaries” are doing.

I am strongly opposed to cities and municipalities declaring themselves sanctuaries for those who would deliberately violate our laws.

In an effort to end sanctuary cities, I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of H.R. 516, the Ending Sanctuary Cities Act. This bill would make cities that violate our nation’s immigration laws ineligible for federal financial assistance.

We are a nation of immigrants; however, those who wish to come to the United States should do so through the proper channels and respect our laws. We must address our antiquated immigration laws and improve security at our southern border; we also must pass laws that make it harder for states to undermine our national security.

U.S. Rep. Billy Long, R-Missouri, can be reached at (202) 909-3744. His Twitter handle is @USRepLong.

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