A Republican lawmaker has introduced legislation that would withhold federal money from the Federal Highway Trust Fund for road improvements in cities that do not fully cooperate with federal immigration officials. These municipalities have been called "sanctuary cities."
On Feb. 6, Republican Rep. Jason Smith of Missouri introduced a bill that would target municipalities that have sanctuary policies to protect their undocumented residents from deportation. The legislation is called the No Highways Funds for Sanctuary Cities Act.
If signed into law, the bill would block sanctuary municipalities from receiving federal funding for building or refurbishing their roads. Smith has proposed cutting off these federal dollars to apply economic pressure on cities that decline to comply with federal immigration authorities, denying them federal infrastructure aide.
"We are a nation of law and order, and cities that actively work against the law of the land should face consequences," Smith said in a statement, according to the Southeast Missourian.
Smith asserted that his bill would "cut off the spigot of federal funds to cities and counties that fail to work with us to make America safe."
The Missouri lawmaker added that mayors of sanctuary cities "better change their ways or they will lose their funding."
The bill would target highway funding for municipalities as well as grants from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery of the Department of Transportation, which provides funding for projects designed to stimulate local economies, the Washington Examiner reports.
Smith's bill in Congress follows President Donald Trump's executive order targeting sanctuary cities. On Jan. 25, Trump signed an executive action calling for municipalities that don't comply with immigration authorities to be stripped of federal grants, according to The Atlantic.
The executive order, titled Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, states that sanctuary cities "are not eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary."
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement records show that 165 jurisdictions employ sanctuary policies.
In Smith's view, the election of Trump signals that there is an appetite for aggressive laws targeting sanctuary cities.
"The American people spoke in November and support President Trump's no-nonsense plan to enforce existing laws to protect our citizens," Smith said.