GOP congressman wants to withhold federal funding to test rape kits from sanctuary cities

"Were you serious about the sanctuary city remark, or was that just a joke?"

Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA). CREDIT: Screengrab
Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA). CREDIT: Screengrab

Georgia is facing a backlog of more than 10,000 untested rape kits, but one Republican congressman from the state wants to withhold federal dollars to test these kits from so-called “sanctuary cities,” according to a video obtained by Jezebel.

During a town hall with constituents on August 8, Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) gave a stunning and tone-deaf response to constituents who asked about funding for the state’s rape kit backlog.

WOMAN 1: “What can you do as a congressman to help Georgia process these rape kits?”

CARTER: “There are grants available, and we’ll do everything we can to help. Unless they’re a sanctuary city.”

WOMAN 2: “Can I ask a quick follow up? 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?”

CARTER: “No, we do not, I voted for a bill that does not allow federal law enforcement grants to go to any sanctuary cities, I was very serious about that. If there is a federal law enforcement grant– I voted for a bill that says they will not get any federal law enforcement money from us, any grants.”

WOMAN 2: “Do you feel like that serves your constituents?”

CARTER: “Yes, it does. It does serve my constituents, because if you’re a sanctuary city, that means 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.”

Carter’s unflinching response to his constituents only serves to reaffirm his controversial position over how little relief should be provided for rape victims. When a college student asked Carter in February whether he would support a bill to provide emergency contraceptives for campus rape victims, he shot back, “I’m not going to vote for any bill that endorses abortion.”

Carter’s threat to pull federal law enforcement grants from so-called “sanctuary cities” —  localities that choose not to turn over suspected undocumented immigrants to federal immigration authorities — actually fails to serve his constituents in more ways than one. Rape victims are punished anew when their cases continue to go unsolved and their attackers remain unpunished and at large. Public safety is also compromised when local law enforcement officials are granted authority to take on federal immigration enforcement duties. That’s because people, particularly those with unlawful immigration status, are made to fear the threat of deportation, and do not come forward to report crimes they witness or suffer as a result. Shortly after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested the victim of a domestic violence incident while trying to get a protective order in Texas, the advocacy group Tahirih Center documented a 62 percent drop nationwide in the number of immigration-related questions from survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking.

It seems a bit hypocritical of Carter to punish rape victims by politicizing the issue of sanctuary cities, which President Donald Trump has made a top priority of his administration. In an archived webpage for his campaign website that promoted his immigration policies, Carter wrote, “President Obama has chosen to politicize this serious issue and is failing the American people.”