HARRISBURG, Feb. 7, 2017 — State Sen. John Sabatina today voted against legislation today that would jeopardize crucial state funding to local law enforcement.
Senate Bill 10, the Municipal Sanctuary and Federal Enforcement (SAFE) Act, which passed the Pennsylvania Senate today by a 37-12 vote, would prevent municipalities and counties from designating themselves as “sanctuary cities” in order to thwart federal efforts to combat illegal immigration. Under this legislation, municipalities are directed to honor requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain people in custody for an additional 48 hours. Municipalities that refuse to comply would lose eligibility for state grants, including law enforcement grants.
Sabatina said he supports the overall concept of the legislation and voted for a similar bill last session, but voiced his serious concerns that Philadelphia’s designation as a “sanctuary city” would prohibit the Philadelphia Police Department from receiving state funding that would help them combat crime.
Sabatina offered an amendment to the bill on the Senate floor to exempt law enforcement grants from losing state funds. The amendment failed by a 34-15 vote.
“I support comprehensive criminal justice policies that ensure the safety of our communities, and I do not believe that the ‘sanctuary city’ designation keeps citizens safe. Additionally, police officers deserve access to all the necessary tools available to keep criminals off the streets,” Sabatina said. “Although the SAFE Act is a good bill in concept, it threatens public safety by stripping away key crime-fighting investments help our police officers continue to keep our streets safe. Unfortunately, I could not vote for the bill once my amendment failed to get support from the full Senate.”
Philadelphia could potential lose up to $1.7 billion in state grants under Senate Bill 10.
The bill now moves to the House for consideration.