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Poll: Most Americans Want Federal Government To Punish Sanctuary Cities

By Staff Reporter | Jul 11, 2015 03:32 PM EDT

A majority of Americans told Rasmussen in a recent poll that they think the U.S. Justice Department should take legal actions against sanctuary cities that shield illegal immigrants from deportation.

Sixty-two percent of likely U.S. voters said the Justice Department should punish cities that skirt federal immigration laws by refusing to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, while 26 percent opposed such legal action, according to Rasmussen.

Along party lines, Rasmussen found that 79 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of independent voters believe the DOJ should take legal action. Only 43 percent of Democrats said they agree.

Fifty-eight percent of likely voters said the government should cut all federal funding to cities that protect illegal immigrants from deportation, while 32 percent disagreed and 10 percent were undecided.

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A majority of Republicans, 79 percent, and independents, 61 percent, agreed that funding should be cut, something just 43 percent of Democrats said they support.

Sanctuary cities have come under heavy scrutiny following last week's alleged murder of San Francisco resident Kathryn Steinle by an illegal Mexican immigrant, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez. The immigrant reportedly had seven prior felonies and had been deported on five occasions, but because San Francisco had declared itself a sanctuary city, local authorities refused to cooperate with federal officials who were attempting to bring the man into custody for deportation proceedings.

An analysis from the Center for Immigration Studies found that more than 200 cities, counties and states around the nation are considered sanctuary cities that protect criminal immigrants "by refusing to comply with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers or otherwise impede open communication and information exchanges between their employees or officers and federal immigration agents."

A number of presidential candidates have spoken out against sanctuary cities, perhaps most notably business tycoon Donald Trump.

"This senseless and utterly deplorable act of violence committed by an illegal immigrant is yet another example of why we must secure our border immediately," Trump said on July 3, The Hill reported.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky plans to introduce legislation that would block sanctuary cities from receiving federal law enforcement grants. State and local law enforcement would be required to notify ICE upon arresting an illegal and would be required to detain the immigrant if requested. "Under this legislation, localities will be required to follow the new requirements as a condition of receiving federal law enforcement grants," Paul said in a press release.

"Our nation now has whole cities and states who stand up and willingly defy federal immigration laws in order to protect illegal immigrants who have broken our nation's laws," Paul, who is currently polling in the middle of the GOP pack, said in a statement. "This must end and it must end now. My bill makes it clear, the American people will not stand for cities harboring violent criminals."

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