The U.S. House of Representatives this morning voted to withhold federal emergency services funding for “sanctuary cities” that protect illegal immigrants.
Anti-illegal immigration champion Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., sponsored the measure, which he says would apply to cities such as Denver and Boulder. He was elated by its passage, which stunned critics and supporters alike.
The House passed the amendment, 234 to 189, with 50 Democrats voting in favor.
Tancredo and his staffers hooted and cheered from his office across the street from the Capitol immediately after the vote.
Tancredo has introduced similar amendments at least seven other times since 2004, but each has failed—often by wide margins.
A year ago, Tancredo and other immigration foes unveiled billboards in Denver, including one with a mock declaration: “Welcome to SANCTUARY CITY . . . Relax, you made it! Brought to you by Executive Order 116.”
The billboard was referring to a 1998 order issued by former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb that outlines the city’s anti-discrimination stance regarding immigrants.
The amendment comes as the Senate is poised to take up debate again next week on an immigration reform plan that some opponents criticize as giving amnesty to illegal immigrants.
President Bush, who supports the Senate’s reform plan, sweetened the deal this week by agreeing to include $4.4 billion for border security. The Senate had put the reform bill on ice because it lacked enough support to bring to a vote.
Tancredo said he thinks his amendment is an indicator that the House would crush the reform plan if it passes in the Senate.
“If I were (Speaker of the House) Nancy Pelosi, I’d be asking if she could pass a vote on amnesty on the House side,” Tancredo said. “If she lost 50 Democrats on this one, and she says she needs 70 Republicans to pass the immigration plan, this is an interesting indicator of things coming down the pike, and that the times, they are a-changing.”