Local Government Committee Approves Sanctuary Cities Bill

The Senate Local Government Committee, chaired by Senator Scott Hutchinson, endorsed legislation on Wednesday that would prevent municipalities from hindering federal efforts to deport illegal immigrants who pose a danger to Pennsylvania communities.  House Bill 1885 targets “sanctuary cities” that refuse to honor detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement for persons of interest who are arrested by local authorities.

“This is a basic safety issue. Under the bill we considered, governing bodies such as counties or municipalities would be prohibited from adopting rules or ordinances that contradict federal immigration policy,” Senator Hutchinson said. “Municipalities that do not enforce federal immigration policy would not be eligible for state grants for law enforcement purposes and could be sued for negligence for releasing an individual with a detainer that subsequently committed another crime.”

The issue gained national attention when San Francisco resident Kathryn Steinle was shot by Francisco Sanchez, an illegal immigrant from Mexico with seven felony convictions who has been deported five times. Due to the municipality’s policy not to report Sanchez’s incarceration to the appropriate federal agency, he was promptly released just prior to Steinle’s murder.

The committee also approved two additional bills.

House Bill 297 would create the Release of Coroner and Medical Examiner Information Act establishing parameters for when a coroner may release a decedent’s name, cause and manner of death.

House Bill 2186 establishes uniform residential qualifications of office for those who are seeking election or appointment to a municipally elected office where recent military service may interfere with that person’s ability to fulfill the proper residency requirements. The measure is the House companion bill to Senate Bill 1300 a measure introduced by Senator Hutchinson that was unanimously approved by the Senate on Tuesday.

Contact:        Justin Leventry         (717) 787-9684         jleventry@pasen.gov

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