Despite voting against President Donald Trump’s executive action to secure the southern border from illegal immigration, last week U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Fla., introduced a bill which would cut off funds to sanctuary cities.
Rooney introduced a bill which would “prohibit a sanctuary jurisdiction from receiving federal financial assistance and protects local law enforcement officers within sanctuaries cities who cooperate with the Department of Homeland Security” and he offered the rationale behind his proposal.
“Sanctuary jurisdictions that harbor criminal illegal aliens are a clear violation of federal law and place citizens of their communities in danger. As I have stated on many occasions, we are a nation of laws – we cannot make exceptions based on feelings and emotion. If these cities choose to break federal law, they should not be rewarded with funding,” Rooney said last week.
Rooney has a tough road to hoe in the Democrat-controlled U.S. House. The bill was sent to the U.S. House Judiciary and the Oversight and Reform Committees last week and, so far, Rooney has not been able to reel in any cosponsors. As of now, there is no version of the bill over in the U.S. Senate.
In the meantime, Rooney doubled down on his opposition to Trump’s executive action, saying he has constitutional concerns. Rooney voted to override the veto though that effort fell short of the votes needed to do so.
Last month, Rooney was one of only 13 Republicans who voted with the House Democrats on the matter.
“My vote to override a veto of the resolution to rescind the national emergency declaration was based on the U.S. Constitution and had nothing to do with President Trump,” Rooney said last week. “I care deeply about securing our border and have both cosponsored and voted in favor of multiple bills to accomplish this and provide fixes to our broken immigration and visa systems. We need to secure our southern border and control who enters and leaves. This can be accomplished with the right combination of defensive barriers including walls and fences, surveillance technology, and vigorous enforcement of our laws.
“My vote was based on the rule of law and the constitutional separation of powers. Although it is true that there have been over 60 national emergency declarations since 1976, no previous declaration was in direct contrast to a vote of Congress and none dealt with appropriation and allocation of money – which is the sole responsibility of the congressional branch,” Rooney added.
Before the vote on Trump’s executive action, Rooney had been considered a backer of the White House on the matter. Back in January, Rooney brought out the “Asylum Protection Act of 2019,” a bill “amending the Immigration and Nationality Act to reduce the deadline for asylum applications and require applicants to begin the asylum process at the time of their arrival at a legal port of entry.”
“Illegal immigrants are abusing the asylum process in the United States,” Rooney said when he introduced the bill in January. “I introduced the Asylum Protection Act to shorten the deadlines by which asylum applications must be submitted to prevent the stay of illegal immigrants and to prioritize those in legitimate fear of persecution.
“Further, this bill will require applicants to begin the asylum process upon their arrival to the United States at a legal port of entry, something the existing law does not require. This bill is crucial to eliminating fraud in the asylum process and securing our nation’s borders,” Rooney added.
At the start of the year, Rooney’s office showcased the Southwest Florida Republican’s efforts, including his support of the Trump administration.
“Congressman Rooney again affirmed his commitment to securing our borders and fixing our broken immigration, asylum and visa systems by voting against legislation that failed to provide any new funding for a wall or barrier along our southern border. Congressman Rooney has been working with administration to link specific investments in portions of the wall with the number of illegal crossings which will be interdicted if these investments are made. We as a nation cannot continue to allow unvetted, illegal entrants into the United States. We must secure our borders now,” Rooney’s office noted at the start of January
During his first term in Congress, Rooney was a member of the House Border Security Caucus and he threw his support to immigration reform and border security bills as a cosponsor.
Kevin Derby can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.