CA funding cuts punish sanctuary cities

March 7, 2008 7:17:01 PM PST
A new crackdown may be coming on so-called "sanctuary cities" which look the other way when it comes to illegal immigrants. San Francisco and San Jose, among others, never report illegals to federal authorities, but now, one lawmaker wants to punish those cities by cutting-off funding.

Tired that some California cities provide refuge to illegal immigrants, one Republican wants to force city leaders' hands. Either drop your "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy by forcing your workers to report them, or lose millions of precious dollars.

"We're not going to deal with the issue by turning our head and pretending it's not there. We're going to tell these cities that this is something we will not tolerate in the state of California," said Assemblyman John Benoit (R), Bermuda Dunes.

When Californians register their cars with the DMV, one of the fees they pay is a Vehicle License Fee. The money is given to cities to use at their discretion. Typically, it's spent on public safety, public works and transportation. Given the housing crisis, cash-strapped cities can hardly afford to lose their VLF money.

"They're just playing politics with this because I can't imagine that what they really want is to hurt innocent people that are not part of the immigration debate, by saying we're going to take all of your money. It's ridiculous!" said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

While Los Angeles dispute its status as sanctuary city, Assemblyman Benoit is using a list put out by the Congressional Research Service.

For the City of Angeles, VLF money totaled $23 million last year.

For San Diego, it received $8 million.

And both San Francisco and San Jose got roughly $5 million.

The money sanctuary cities lose would go towards training local cops to operate like Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officers (ICE) who have been doing high-profile raids lately at companies employing illegals.

"I'd rather use these police officers to focus on crime and violence," said Mayor Newsom.

Some California cities do cooperate with ICE.

When the city of Costa Mesa began using a full time ICE agents in jails, that lead to the deportation of nearly 400 criminals who were here illegally in the first year of the program, alone.


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