House approves bill to withhold funds from sanctuary cities

The House of Representatives approved a bill withholding federal funds from sanctuary cities that do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities. The bill now moves to the Senate where it faces a tough battle.

Local leaders said they're disappointed by the passage of the bill in the House. The bill cuts grants from the Justice Department and Homeland Security. Leaders are concerned the loss of money could endanger lives.

With a vote of 228 to 195, the House of Representatives made it tougher for so-called sanctuary cities, like San Jose, to protect undocumented immigrants by passing the “No Sanctuary for Criminals” act.

“I’m not surprised,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. “I’ve been disappointed by this Congress and this Administration for awhile but we are going to be doing exactly what we have been doing.”

The bill would let the federal government strip grants to cities and states that have policies preventing cooperation with federal immigration officials.

Opponents said the bill asks local jurisdictions to detain residents without due process violating the Constitution. It also uses local resources to carry out the work of federal agents. San Jose Mayor said the city isn't backing down.

“We are going to continue to police the same way we have for decades,” said Liccardo. “Nothing about federal law is going to change that.”

It’s unclear what federal dollars could be withheld. While Liccardo said San Jose won't lose significant funding, Santa Clara County could.

“Where it will be really significant is if they decide to withhold money for things like flood protection, the protection of natural disasters, FEMA money,” said Santa Clara County Board Supervisor Cindy Chavez.

Santa Clara County Republicans call the bill common sense, protecting American families.

“Dangerous criminals threaten all of us whether you are an immigrant or you are born here,” said Shane Patrick Connolly of the Santa Clara County Republicans. “It's important police have every tool in the tool box to get these folks who cause us harm out of our community.”

Still, immigration rights groups said the law would hurt 180,000 undocumented immigrants in Santa Clara County, by furthering fear and diminishing trust.

“My family and myself, we are already worried about what's happening with the country in itself,” said DACA Recipient Cecilia Chavez. “To take away resources from sanctuary cities is one more step towards uncertainty.”

Political experts said the bill faces a tough challenge in the Senate, with many lawmakers protest cuts in law enforcement funding. If it does become law, it will likely face legal challenges.