Thousands of rape kits in Georgia will remain untested if they are in sanctuary cities, according to a Republican congressman.
Rep. Buddy Carter of Georgia made the comments in a town hall style gathering on Aug. 8 in Homerville, Ga., according to Jezebel, which obtained a video of the event last week.
A woman at the meeting asked Carter about the backlog of rape kits in the state and potential grants that could help get some of them tested.
“There are grants available, and we’ll do everything we can to help. Unless they’re a sanctuary city, then we won’t,” Carter said with a laugh.
Moments later, a woman identified by Jezebel as Kathryn Shelton, who submitted the video, asked in a follow-up question, “Were you serious about the sanctuary city remark, or was that just a joke”
“Like, you wouldn’t provide grants to test rape kits if it was a sanctuary city” she clarified.
“I voted for a bill that does not allow for federal law enforcement grants to go to any sanctuary cities,” Carter answered. “I was very serious about that. If there is a federal law enforcement grant, then I do not I voted for a bill that says that they will no get any federal law enforcement money from us.”
“Do you feel like that serves your constituents” Shelton asked.
“Yes, it does,” Carter replied. “It does serve my constituents, because if you’re a sanctuary city, that means that you are refusing to enforce our immigration laws here in the United States, and if you’re doing that, then I don’t want to be sending you any federal grants to go to your city.”
“If they’re not gonna enforce our immigration laws here in America, then they’re not gonna get law enforcement grants from the federal government,” he repeated later.
In June Carter voted in favor of the “No Sanctuary for Criminals Act.” According to the bill, non-compliance with immigration laws will result in loss of federal funding, “including Department of Justice or Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grants that are substantially related to law enforcement, terrorism, national security, immigration, or naturalization.”
According to END THE BACKLOG, Georgia has more than 10,000 untested rape kits more than five times the amount in New York. Of all states where data is available, Georgia has the sixth highest number of untested rape kits. The state requires them all to be tested by law, but it does not designate funding for testing the kits.
“Sanctuary city” is not a legal term and carries varying meanings city by city. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in May released a memo with the administration’s first attempt at a definition of “sanctuary cities.”
The designation “refer[s] only to jurisdictions that ‘willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373,'” according to the memo.
Section 1373 states that government and other entities may not “prohibit” or “restrict” Immigration and Naturalization Service information. But it does not and, constitutionally, cannot force city police departments to act as immigration agents.
Unlawfully detaining immigrants can easily turn into a violation of the person’s constitutional rights. In 2009 Ada Morales, a Guatemala native and U.S. citizen was arrested on an unrelated charge. She was detained even after a judge demanded she be released, based on an ICE request.
In a January ruling, U.S. District Judge John J. McConnell Jr. said the details of Morales’ detainment “are disturbing on many levels” and “should concern all Americans.” The incident “revealed a dysfunction of constitutional proportion at both the state and federal levels,” McConnell’s opinion states.
According to the Center for Immigration Studies, Clayton and DeKalb counties in Georgia are both considered sanctuary areas. Part of Atlanta, the state’s capital, extends into DeKalb County. Collectively, the two counties represent just under 10 percent of the state’s total population.
The Trump administration has been trying to take action against sanctuary cities. Last week U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks in Texas rejected a law that would have punished so-called sanctuary cities. Under Senate Bill 4, police chiefs, sheriffs and possibly frontline officers who fail to cooperate with U.S. immigration officials would face potential jail time. SB 4 also would have allowed police to ask about immigration status during a lawful detention.
President Donald Trump recently endorsed legislation that would cut legal immigration in half, despite the fact that research does not support the narrative that immigrants are dangerous and pose a risk to public safety.
Reuters reported earlier this month:
As the percentage of immigrants without papers rose in the U.S. population between 1990 and 2014, arrests for drugs and drunken-driving dropped, according to a study in the American Journal of Public Health.
“The results of this study challenge the notion that undocumented immigrants cause higher crime rates and general chaos in our communities,” said Josefina Alvarez, a psychology professor at Adler University in Chicago, who was not involved with the research.
In the first study of its kind, researchers used immigration estimates from the Center for Migration Studies and the Pew Research Center to test the premise that those who entered the U.S. unlawfully placed the public at greater risk by driving under the influence and using illegal drugs.
Contrary to the rhetoric, with every 1 percent increase in the proportion of undocumented immigrants in a population of 100,000, there were 42 fewer drunken-driving arrests, 22 fewer drug arrests and roughly one less drug overdose, the study found.
Rep. Carter, meanwhile, is no stranger to controversial remarks. In July he came to President Donald Trump’s defense after he took to Twitter to attack Alaskan Sen. Lisa Murkowski, blaming her in part for the Republican’s failure to repeal Obamacare because she voted no.
“I think it’s perfectly fair,” Carter said. “Let me tell you, somebody needs to go over there to that Senate and snatch a knot in their ass.”
According to Urban Dictionary, “snatch a knot” means “To hit someone, usually used in a threat of punishment or retribution. A knot is generally snatched in one’s ass, though variants include the neck and the head.”