The Senate Votes On A Bill Inspired By Donald Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric
It turns out Donald Trump’s inflammatory comments have provided material for more than just talk-show hosts. The Donald’s hateful, anti-immigrant rhetoric has also inspired a bill known as the “Donald Trump Act,” which failed to pass in the Senate this afternoon. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) introduced the bill, which is formally named the “Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act.” The bill would strip funding from community trust policies—also known as “sanctuary cities”— which are places that have chosen to emphasize community safety and respond to constitutional concerns by limiting federal immigration enforcement.
Sen. Vitter’s anti “sanctuary cities” bill would punish these cities by cutting funding for critical law enforcement and economic development programs, which are essential in helping localities invest in stronger and safer communities. But stripping federal funding away from states and cities that choose not to turn over undocumented immigrants could actually limit law enforcement agencies’ ability to provide assistance and respond to crimes. Community trust policies allow unauthorized immigrants to feel comfortable enough to report crimes, by ensuring that immigration status is not a factor in their reporting. This also allows law enforcement to focus on more serious crimes.
Instead of letting local officials and law enforcement decide how best to protect their communities, Sen. Vitter’s bill attempts to impose a one-size fits all policy that could actually harm public safety. The Donald Trump Act would also require a minimum prison sentence for anyone who reenters the United States after being deported. Not only would this erode trust between police officers and the communities they serve, but it would also come with serious economic consequences.
As if the motivation behind this bill didn’t seem political enough, the timing of today’s Senate vote was politically motivated as well. Sen. Vitter is in the final days of an increasingly competitive campaign for Governor of Louisiana, and the most recent polls show that even one-third of all Republicans in Louisiana view the senator negatively. The hope is that the introduction of this contentious bill will excite the conservative base in Louisiana.
Although today’s bill failed, Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz have vowed to continue bringing up bills like the Donald Trump Act. Rather than focusing their energy on punishing cities with community trust policies, lawmakers should work towards real legislative solutions to the country’s immigration challenges. Comprehensive immigration reform would allow individuals to come off of the economic sidelines and get on a pathway to citizenship, permitting law enforcement agencies to focus resources on going after serious threats to the community. And in the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, strong executive actions can help work toward long term solutions.
BOTTOM LINE: Sen. Vitter’s bill, and the larger GOP crusade to demonize unauthorized immigrants, paints the entire immigrant population as dangerous criminals while giving them no option to come forward and live within the law. Instead of wasting time and energy against community trust policies, lawmakers should work towards real legislative solutions to our country’s immigration challenges.
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