Typically when we hear the word “sanctuary,” it gives us a feeling of safety, shelter and security. What we do not often associate with this word is heartbreaking loss. But, as we heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee late last month, that’s exactly what Jim Steinle experienced in a so-called sanctuary city.
Mr. Steinle lived every parent’s worst nightmare, as his daughter Kate was murdered right before his eyes in broad daylight in San Francisco. He testified that the last words he ever heard his daughter speak were, “Help me, Dad.”
That is absolutely devastating.
Kate Steinle was murdered by a criminal alien who had previously been deported multiple times. When the man who killed her returned through our porous border yet again, he purposefully sought out San Francisco due to the city’s sanctuary city status.
Because, in reality, sanctuary cities are not providing safety, shelter or security for all. By refusing to comply with federal immigration laws and immigration authorities, these cities are knowingly creating an environment where criminals feel welcome, and where repeat offenders know they can go without fear of repercussions.
It is no secret that our nation’s immigration system is broken, and, for many of my colleagues and myself, it is clear that the solution starts at the border.
But as the need to strengthen security at our borders continues, the issues created by these sanctuary cities must also be addressed. Studies show there are nearly 300 sanctuary cities in more than 40 states across the nation. The Obama Administration’s acceptance and even support of their policies provides one more piece of the puzzle for those seeking to come to our country with malice in their hearts, and those with criminal records longer than the immigration paperwork they do not fill out.
As long as these cities are allowed to exist, refusing to work with federal immigration authorities, career criminals like those who took Kate Steinle’s life literally out of her father’s arms will know they have sanctuary.
That’s why I cosponsored and voted for the Stop Sanctuary Cities and Protect American Lives Act, which the Senate voted on this week. Among other things, this important bill would close loopholes that sanctuary cities take advantage of and prevent certain federal dollars from going to cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.
While Senate Democrats filibustered this legislation this week, that does not mean I will stop fighting to end sanctuary cities. We cannot allow these cities’ disregard for the rule of law to lead to further tragedies.
Because unfortunately, Kate Steinle is one of many who have lost their lives due to poor immigration and border security policies. You might not have heard the names Danny Oliver, Michael Davis, or Grant Ronnebeck, but their families are grieving their loss as well. These are just a handful of the names of those sons, daughters, fathers, brothers and sisters who have had their lives taken in part due to these misguided policies.
One of these mothers shared her story with words more poignant than I could ever write at a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Laura Wilkerson, whose son Josh was brutally tortured and murdered by a man who was in our country illegally, said “Our family is left with a Birth certificate, an autopsy report and a death certificate…I urge you not to wait until it’s your child or grandchild. You never want them to live through what our family and many, many others families have survived.”
We cannot wait any longer. It is time to secure the border, and stop sanctuary cities. I will continue fighting to do both of these things in the U.S. Senate.
U.S. Senator Tim Scott serves on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. He can be found on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/SenatorTimScott and on Twitter @SenatorTimScott.