Jul 09 2019

Graham Backs Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) has signed on as a cosponsor of the Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act, legislation that would hold sanctuary cities and jurisdictions accountable for failing to comply with lawful detainer and release notification requests made by federal law enforcement authorities. 

Graham noted that these requests jeopardize public safety by letting dangerous criminal illegal aliens back on the street instead of being deported.

“A good piece of legislation that is long overdue,” said Senator Graham, who serves as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “There must be consequences for governments and entities that gamble with public safety, refuse to work with federal officials, and refuse to deal with felons here illegally. This legislation empowers individuals who are the victims of these entities and governments’ poor decisions.”

The legislation creates a private right of civil action for the victims of sanctuary jurisdictions, allowing them to bring an action for compensatory damages against the sanctuary jurisdiction as a result of a violent crime committed by an illegal immigrant. Any sanctuary city or jurisdiction that refuses to waive its immunity as is relates to sanctuary-related civil action would be subject to the withholding of certain Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding.

The legislation was introduced by Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina and also has gained Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) as co-sponsors.

The Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act is a direct response to a growing number of sanctuary jurisdictions across the nation that either have official sanctuary policies or are refusing to comply with detainer requests and release notifications from the Department of Homeland Security. 

Major provisions of the Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act of 2019

Defining a “Sanctuary Jurisdiction”

The legislation defines a sanctuary jurisdiction as any state or political subdivision (including a county or city) that has a statue, ordinance, policy, or practice that restricts a government official or entity from receiving or maintaining information about the immigration status of an individual, including refusing to comply with lawful detainer requests made by DHS or the notification of the release of an illegal immigrant. A jurisdiction would not be deemed a “sanctuary jurisdiction” based solely on policies where officials do not share information or comply with detainers for illegal immigrants who come forward as a victim or a witness to a criminal offense.

Establishing civil action for the victims or family members of crimes committed by illegal immigrants benefitting from a sanctuary policy

The legislation establishes a private right of action for any individual, spouse, or child who is a victim a violent crime or felony that was a result of a sanctuary jurisdiction failing to comply with a lawful request made by the Department of Homeland Security and refused to comply with a detainer or notify DHS about the release of an illegal immigrant.

Withholding grant funding for jurisdictions that refuse to comply with lawful requests

The legislation requires any state or political subdivision of a state to waive immunity as it relates to sanctuary-related civil action as a condition of receiving Community Development Block Grant funds (CDBG) and certain Economic Development Administration grants. The failure to waive immunity on sanctuary-related civil action will result in the withholding of grants for public works, grants related to planning administrative expenses, and grants for training, research, and technical assistance.