Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo.
The eighth time was a charm for Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., when the House passed his amendment to the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill yesterday to withhold federal emergency-services funding from “sanctuary cities” that protect illegal aliens.
The 234-to-189 tally included 50 Democrats voting in favor.
“The issue has come to fruition,” Tancredo told the Rocky Mountain News. “The people of the country really have spoken. It’s a really good indicator of just how much closer to the people the House is than the Senate is.”
Tancredo has offered the similar amendments at least seven times since 2004 and all have failed, some by wide margins.
The amendment passed yesterday does not include a definition of “sanctuary city.” The Homeland Security appropriations bill now goes to the Senate.
Known for his fierce opposition to illegal immigration and the failure of the federal government to secure U.S. borders, Tancredo has focused particular criticism on local governments across the country that have declared themselves sanctuary cities, refusing in varying degrees to allow law enforcement and city personnel to inquire about individuals’ legal status.
“People have to understand what we’re talking about here. The president of the United States is an internationalist,” Tancredo told WND in an exclusive interview. “He is going to do what he can to create a place where the idea of America is just that – it’s an idea. It’s not an actual place defined by borders. I mean this is where this guy is really going.”
“Look at what has happened to Miami. It has become a Third World country,” he said. “You just pick it up and take it and move it someplace. You would never know you’re in the United States of America. You would certainly say you’re in a Third World country.”
In the ensuing uproar following those remarks, Tancredo reiterated his position in a letter to Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida.:
“Do you not worry that Miami’s ‘sanctuary city’ rules serve as a magnet for illegal aliens and undercut the state’s otherwise sound law enforcement policies? Do you worry that a recent random community survey on ‘Miami values’ found that corruption was listed as the number one ‘value’ by residents?
In 2005, Tancredo criticized Denver’s sanctuary policy after an illegal alien, who worked in a restaurant co-owned by Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, was identified as a suspect in the fatal shooting of a police detective.
Restaurant managers told police the 19-year-old illegal had presented a resident-alien card when he applied for the job. “You could see that this card was fake,” a police source close to the investigation said.
The suspect had been given three traffic citations in Denver, but federal immigration officials had not been contacted, even though his legal status could not be confirmed.
“Denver’s sanctuary policy prevents local law enforcement from cooperating with federal officials on immigration matters, despite federal law which explicitly prohibits such a policy,” said Tancredo, while questioning whether the mayor’s restaurant had done enough to verify the suspect’s legal status when he was hired.
Last year, Tancredo and other Colorado anti-illegal activists launched a campaign in Denver criticizing the city’s sanctuary policy implemented eight years before by then-Mayor Wellington Webb.
It was a label Webb disputed.
“There are no ordinances, executive orders or regulations that establish a ‘sanctuary policy’ in Denver,” the mayor’s spokesperson said at the time.
“Denver’s policies comply with federal law, and Denver law enforcement officers cooperate with federal officials on immigration matters. Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have said Denver is not a sanctuary city, so merely erecting a misleading billboard doesn’t make it true.”
Courtesy: KMGH-TV, Denver
Ignoring the question of semantics, Tancredo’s campaign attacked the policy through a series of billboards.
“Mr. President, Mr. Governor, Mr. Mayor – They did not die for … ILLEGAL SANCTUARY,” read one of the messages featuring three military rifles, each stuck bayonet-first into the ground and topped with a helmet.
Another declared, “Welcome to SANCTUARY CITY … Relax, you made it! Brought to you by Executive Order 116,” referring to the 1998 order barring discrimination against illegals.
Tancredo’s victory in the House comes on the eve of efforts by Bush and the Senate to revive debate next week on the administration’s failed immigration-reform plan. He said the sanctuary-city amendment’s passage indicates the House would defeat the current immigration bill if it passes in the Senate.
“If I were Nancy Pelosi, I’d be asking if she could pass a vote on amnesty on the House side,” Tancredo said. “If she lost 50 Democrats on this one, and she says she needs 70 Republicans to pass the immigration plan, this is an interesting indicator of things coming down the pike, and that the times, they are a-changing.”