Indiana Rep. Todd Rokita, who is running for U.S. Senate, wants to make it a federal crime for local lawmakers to refuse to help the Trump administration with immigration raids.
In their haste to help Donald Trump throw immigrants out of the country and separate parents from their children, some Republicans appear to have forgotten the Constitution — including Indiana Rep. Todd Rokita.
Rokita, who next year will be running against Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly, wants to get rid of “sanctuary cities” — cities where police do not interrogate people on immigration status, or comply with detention requests from federal immigration agents without a warrant.
The issue has flared up in the wake of the acquittal of an undocumented immigrant who was accused of fatally shooting Kate Steinle in San Francisco.
In fact, under a new bill Rokita is putting forward in the House, it would actually become a federal crime to declare a sanctuary city, per Fox News:
“Politicians don’t get to pick and choose what laws to comply with,” Rokita told Fox News. “Americans are dying because politicians sworn to uphold the law refuse to do so.”
His “Stopping Lawless Actions of Politicians (SLAP) Act” would hold state and local lawmakers criminally responsible for refusing to comply with federal immigration enforcement efforts. The Republican’s bill would subject violators to a $1 million fine and up to five years in prison if they are convicted.
“It’s time the federal government gets serious about enforcing immigration laws and holding politicians accountable who conspire to break them,” said Rokita.
Rokita’s argument is ridiculous. Immigration laws, as federal laws, are outside the jurisdiction of local officials. A municipal police officer who does not help ICE with immigration raids is not “breaking the law,” because his job is to enforce municipal laws.
In fact, the Supreme Court has ruled multiple times that local authorities cannot be forced to police laws above their jurisdiction — which is partly why, when Trump tried to block federal grants to cities with sanctuary policies, federal courts smacked him down.
But Rokita’s proposal is not just illegal — it would also do great harm to communities, families, and law enforcement.
If immigrant parents fear any visit to the police station will result in their neighborhood officers calling the feds to rip them away from their kids, they will avoid all contact with police — including to report crimes. Studies show that in sanctuary cities, locals have greater trust in police, more crimes are reported, and people are generally safer.
Despite this, Republicans have long scapegoated sanctuary cities for just about all crime and social ills in America. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tried to outlaw sanctuary cities in his state, only to be blocked in court. And failed Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie vowed to abolish sanctuary cities in Virginia — even though Virginia does not actually have any.
Republicans like Rokita betray their own authoritarian impulses by targeting communities which protect the rights of immigrant families. Their vision of America is not one of security, but one of terror.