Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) signed legislation banning so-called sanctuary cities for illegal immigrants within his state on Wednesday.
The move is largely symbolic since Montana does not have any sanctuary cities, though it is representative of state GOP executives pushing back as President Joe Biden and a Democratic Congress continue to push progressive reforms. Former Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, vetoed similar legislation in 2019.
“We are a nation of laws, and immigration laws will be enforced in Montana,” Gianforte said in a statement, according to The Associated Press.
The bill bars state and local police from refusing to comply with federal law or work with Immigration and Customs Officials to apprehend and deport illegal immigrants. The law also grants authority to Montana’s attorney general to pursue legal action against cities and localities that do not comply.
Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis signed similar legislation into law in his state in 2019.
“This is about the rule of law,” DeSantis said at a signing ceremony for the legislation at the time. “It’s also about public safety.”
Sanctuary city policies have led to city officials at times protecting violent criminals from federal authorities, helping those criminals avoid deportation and giving them the chance to commit more violent acts. Such a case appeared to unfold in Chicago in February when a convicted felon allegedly sexually assaulted a toddler. As The Daily Wire reported:
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is on the defensive this weekend after Immigrations and Customs Enforcement announced that a convicted felon, now facing charges of sexually assaulting a toddler in a downtown Chicago McDonalds bathroom, was supposed to have been turned over to ICE and deported — and had been deported before.
“ICE said in a news release Thursday [Christopher] Puente was placed into Chicago police custody in June of 2019 after he was arrested for theft,” according to a Chicago ABC affiliate. “According to ICE, Chicago police were expected to hold Puente until he could be taken into their custody, as Puente was expected to be deported.”
Because Chicago is a so-called “Sanctuary City” and has lenient bail policies, Puente was released back into the community.
Puente is now charged with raping a 3-year-old girl in the bathroom of Chicago’s landmark “Rock & Roll McDonalds,” a major tourist destination just north of the city’s downtown, and just west of its “Magnificent Mile” shopping district. Puente allegedly lured the girl away from her father, who was attending to the girl’s brother inside a bathroom stall. Puente, police say, dragged the girl into his stall, locked the door, molested and assaulted her. The girl’s father, alerted by her screams, rescued her, but could not catch Puente, CPD says, who bolted from the bathroom and out the door of the McDonalds, into the street.
Before losing election in November, former President Donald Trump implemented a policy to restrict sanctuary cities’ access to federal funds until local officials begin to comply with ICE requests. The Biden administration has rolled back the policy and requested that legal challenges to it be dropped.