© 2020 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Sanctuary Cities Could Lose Federal Policing Funds

Ryan E. Poppe


A San Antonio representative is weighing in as Congress debates legislation that calls for withholding federal funds from so-called sanctuary cities.  In those cities local law enforcement typically do not ask whether people are in the country illegally.


If the bill in Congress becomes law, the U..S. Justice Department would be prohibited from awarding federal grants to over 300 municipalities deemed sanctuary cities.  That list includes most major cities in Texas including San Antonio.  San Antonio Congressman Lamar Smith, a Republican,  agrees the cities should lose federal money if they have policies that contradict the enforcement of immigration law.


“In the case of the sanctuary cities, in just 8-months last year they had released almost 9,000 individuals who had either been arrested or convicted of serious crimes.  In just the few months since they have been released ¼ have committed other crimes,”  Smith told the congressional committee.


Many Texas police chiefs argue that by not asking about someone’s immigration status they reduce crime.  Tensions are eased between immigrant communities and police.  Immigrants and their families are not as afraid to report a crime. Smith says numbers do not back up that assertion.


“It is simply anecdotal and I have never seen one shred of evidence that that is the case, it’s simply an assertion, in fact every study I have seen, 3 out of 3 have actually demonstrated just the opposite,” Smith said.


Some congressional  Republicans seized on a renewed attention to sanctuary cities following remarks made by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump who has traveled to Texas to tour the border.   Trump has highlighted the murder of Katheryn Steinle in San Francisco who was shot to death by an immigrant, who’d been deported several times.  He’s called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “criminals.” 


Both the U.S. House and Senate are expected to vote on sanctuary city funding by the end of the week.