The Trump administration is moving forward with cutting off federal law enforcement grants to local governments that shield illegal aliens, especially violent felons, from federal immigration authorities, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said yesterday.
The attorney general’s announcement came as local officials and open-borders advocates from across America met in Manhattan to devise new ways to frustrate immigration enforcement. The two-day conference, sponsored by the George Soros-funded website Think Progress, was organized by the unhinged leftist, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D). Earlier this month she accused President Trump of “ethnic cleansing” for wanting to remove illegal aliens from the country.
The so-called sanctuary movement is a key component of today’s left-wing activist repertoire. Its supporters are the soft-headed souls who carry protest signs emblazoned with the red-herring of a slogan “no human being is illegal” and who apply all the usual smear-adjectives – including racist, xenophobic, and Islamophobic – to anyone who supports having secure borders. The movement gave illegal aliens permission to rob, rape, and murder Americans by, among other things, stigmatizing immigration enforcement.
Some left-wingers use the dreadful euphemism “civil liberties safe zones” to describe sanctuary jurisdictions. The phrase blurs the distinction between citizens and non-citizens by implying illegal aliens somehow possess a civil right to be present in the U.S.
But public sentiment appears to be turning against sanctuary cities in light of the rape of a 14-year-old girl by two of her illegal-alien classmates at Rockville High School in the suburbs of the nation’s capital. Angry local residents held a rally on Sunday against the sanctuary policies in Maryland’s Montgomery County that they say laid the groundwork for the shocking daytime sexual assault in a school bathroom.
Sessions is hoping that with more than $4.1 billion in Department of Justice grants at stake in the current fiscal year, sanctuary jurisdictions won’t be able to afford to continue flaunting federal immigration law. The government is also willing to “claw back” monies already granted.
“The American people are justifiably angry” about sanctuary cities, said Sessions who showed up at the White House for press secretary Sean Spicer’s daily press briefing.
Federal laws “require us to promptly remove aliens when they are convicted of certain crimes,” he said. One recent poll indicated “80 percent of Americans believe that cities that arrest illegal immigrants for crimes should be required to turn them over to immigration authorities.”
The attorney general continued:
They know that when cities and states refuse to help enforce immigration laws, our nation is less safe. Failure to deport aliens who are convicted of criminal offenses puts whole communities at risk – especially immigrant communities in the very sanctuary jurisdictions that seek to protect the perpetrators.
DUIs, assaults, burglaries, drug crimes, gang crimes, rapes, crimes against children and murders. Countless Americans would be alive today – and countless loved ones would not be grieving today – if the policies of these sanctuary jurisdictions were ended.
Some states and cities have been ignoring Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “detainer” requests by refusing to hold known felons in custody for processing by ICE, Sessions said.
“People die because sanctuary cities will not comply with ICE detainers,” Jonathan Hanen, eastern field representative for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), said at a recent town forum in Rockport, Mass.
“One hundred percent of illegal aliens are criminals,” Hanen said. “They committed the misdemeanor of coming here illegally and a good chunk of them are felons for re-entering.”
Sessions cited a recent Department of Homeland Security paper that reported more than 200 instances in a single week of jurisdictions refusing to honor detainer requests for aliens charged with or convicted of “drug trafficking, hit and run, rape, sex offenses against a child, and even murder.”
Sessions recalled the 2015 case of Kate Steinle, a 32-year-old woman who was murdered as she walked along a pier in San Francisco. The shooter, who freely admitted he came to San Francisco because of its sanctuary policies, was an illegal alien who had seven felony convictions and had been deported five times. The local sheriff ignored the ICE detainer and let him go weeks before he killed Steinle in cold blood.
Sessions noted that an illegal alien was charged with murder last week in the death of a man at a light rail station. A Denver jail released him in December even after ICE had filed a detainer for his removal.
The remarks by Sessions came after ICE published its first “Weekly Declined Detainer Outcome Report,” that lists more than 100 cities and counties that “have a policy of non-cooperation” with ICE.
“When criminal aliens are released from local or state custody, they have the opportunity to reoffend,” ICE said in a statement. “It is much safer for everyone – the community, law enforcement, and even the criminal alien – if ICE officers take custody of the alien in the controlled environment of another law enforcement agency as opposed to visiting a reported alien’s residence, place of work, or other public area.”
On what some call the “name and shame list,” ICE identifies the following 10 counties and communities in order as the worst in the United States in terms of complying with immigration law: Clark, Nevada; Nassau, New York; Cook, Illinois; Montgomery, Iowa; Snohomish, Washington; Franklin, New York; Washington, Oregon; Alachua, Florida; Franklin, Iowa; and Franklin, Pennsylvania.
According to FAIR, lawmakers in at least 24 states have introduced legislation to eliminate sanctuary jurisdictions within their borders. Currently, bills in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia “are gaining the most traction.”
But at the same time lawmakers in California, New Jersey, and Vermont have been moving in the opposite direction.
In California, state law already prevents law enforcement from honoring detainer requests “in almost all cases except for the most serious offenders.” A bill is pending in the Senate that “expands the state’s existing sanctuary law by prohibiting state and local law enforcement from using any resources to investigate, detain, detect, report, or arrest any person for any immigration enforcement purpose.” The measure would also expand “the state’s sanctuary policy by requiring all public entities to implement policies that limit assistance with immigration enforcement to the fullest extent possible.”
In New Jersey, a bill “to prohibit any employee of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey from cooperating with federal officials in the enforcement” of President Trump’s Executive Order 13780 dated March 6, has been moving forward. The Port Authority runs the transit systems, airports, bridges, and tunnels connecting New Jersey and New York. EO 13780, which temporarily prevents visas from being issued to individuals from Islamic terrorism-plagued Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Libya, and Syria to provide the federal government with an opportunity to implement Trump’s “extreme vetting” measures, has been enjoined by the courts. If the New Jersey measure becomes law, New York would have to enact similar legislation since it shares responsibility for the Port Authority.
The Vermont measure, which easily passed the Senate and House, would restrict police cooperation with ICE. The bill was sent to Gov. Phil Scott (R), a sanctuary enthusiast, on March 24 for his consideration. Scott lobbied for the bill so presumably he will sign it into law. Earlier this month, five-term Rutland, Vt. Mayor Christopher Louras lost his reelection bid following a year-long scandal related to an unpopular refugee resettlement program he supported.
Given the Left’s determination to protect lawless sanctuary cities, it’s a fair bet the list of states proposing new measures to prevent ICE from doing its job will grow.