Civil rightsCongressHot Sheet

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck backs bill to withhold grant money from sanctuary cities

Author: Joey Bunch - April 26, 2018 - Updated: April 26, 2018

Ken BuckColorado U.S. Rep. Ken Buck addressing the House last November. (Photo courtesy of C-SPAN via Youtube)

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican from Windsor, to no surprise to those who know him, is a prime supporter of new federal legislation to withhold grant money to so-called sanctuary cities for undocumented residents.

Rep. Dan Donovan, a Republican from New York, introduced the No Enforcement, No Grant for Sanctuary Cities Act (H.R. 5617) this week to withhold immigration enforcement grants from cities — potentially Denver, Aurora and Boulder — that are deemed as uncooperative with federal agents.

The grant money is called State Criminal Alien Assistance Program Funds, which help offset costs of incarceration for undocumented inmates.

In 2016, state corrections programs received more than $2 million for salaries, and the city and county of Denver received more than $491,000, among 34 recipients of the funds in the state.

Buck’s office said the legislation is “sending a strong message that there will be consequences for cities choosing to ignore the rule of law.”

Buck, the former Weld County district attorney and one of the most conservative members of Congress, said sanctuary cities can be tied to the heroin epidemic in Denver, as a hub of trafficking for the Rocky Mountain region.

“Sanctuary cities not only violate the rule of law, they also create safe harbor for illegal immigrants engaged in heroin trafficking,” Buck said in a statement Thursday morning. “If we want to protect our children and grandchildren and stop this disastrous heroin epidemic, then we need to use every tool at our disposal to end sanctuary city policies.”

Donovan, like Buck, also is a former prosecutor who represents Staten Island and south Brooklyn.

“Our government’s greatest responsibility is to protect the American people, and sanctuary city policies prevent us from fulfilling that duty,” Donovan told the SILive news website Tuesday. “We are a nation of laws — and cities and politicians can’t pick and choose which rules to follow.”

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.