The Trump administration is considering criminal charges against local officials who don’t fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities, but Democratic Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti insists he’s “not scared at all,” calling the crackdown on the so-called “sanctuary city” movement “a weak and pathetic move.”
Garcetti was asked by PJ Media if he was worried about the possibility of facing federal charges.
“Not at all. I think it’s a political circus. I think it’s about stirring up, you know, blowing a dog whistle – not about anything real,” he said in an interview at the recent U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting.
“There’s not a single document we’ve ever cut back, and they know that. There’s not a single city in America that has done that, so it was kind of a weak and pathetic move, and I’m not scared at all,” he said of Justice Department requests for records related to compliance with federal law by Los Angeles and other cities.
Garcetti contends there are no federal statutes the Justice Department can use against his city. He acknowledged that the administration can withdraw federal funds, but he believes the city will get those funds anyway through court orders.
“We coordinate and cooperate with our federal authorities,” he insisted. “We can’t break the Constitution, though, and that’s what some of their requirements have asked us to do.”
But the mayor explained to the Los Angeles Times in a March 2017 story that his city was one of several in California that does not hold people for immigration officials without a warrant.
Garcetti cited federal courts that have ruled detainer orders from federal immigration authorities differ from an official warrant and are not legal justification for holding someone who has served a sentence or is no longer under arrest.
“We see it as abiding by the Constitution, because there is case law that says we can’t hold people for longer than permitted,” Garcetti said.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, PJ Media reported, recently told a Senate committee hearing that the Justice Department was “reviewing what avenues might be available” to charge local officials who do not fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
She said the aim is not only to avoid putting Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers at risk, but also to find “an efficient and effective way to enforce our immigration laws.”
DHS chief Nielsen confirmed to the Senate Judiciary Committee last month that her department has asked federal prosecutors to review whether or not they can file criminal charges against sanctuary cities, the Washington Times reported.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Tom Homan has said the sanctuary city policies put his officers and local communities at more risk because they have to arrest illegal immigrants out in the community.
Homan told the Washington Times last July he wanted to see local officials charged as complicit in human smuggling if they shielded illegal immigrants through sanctuary policies
The entire state of California has a new sanctuary law, enacted Jan. 1, that severely restricts cooperation with the state or any of its localities.
Garcetti, answering questions from citizens through a forum by L.A.’s KABC-TV last September, said he has always used the term sanctuary city.
“I always say that if being a city of sanctuary means that our cops do their job and the feds do theirs and we abide by the Constitution because we can’t hold people longer than the Constitution allows, then yes that’s what we are and proudly so,” he said.
“But I think that there is a misconception. A lot of people think a sanctuary city are mayors in the country saying ‘Please come here if you are a criminal.’ And that couldn’t be further from the truth. We all want to get the bad criminals, and I’m worried that our federal policies are casting a wide net now. Not catching the bad sharks in the sea but are instead picking up a bunch of fish that are causing no harm.”
California will prosecute employers that help ICE
In March 2017, amid a new call from the Trump administration to cut off federal funds to sanctuary cities, Garcetti and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck asked the federal government to define sanctuary city, the Los Angeles Times reported
The paper noted that while there is no legal definition of the term, the Trump administration has seemed to define it as jurisdictions that don’t comply when ICE asks them to detain prisoners after they have served their sentences so they can be picked up for deportation.
Citing California’s new sanctuary law, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra told reporters Feb. 2 that his office would prosecute employers in California who cooperate with ICE in rumored upcoming immigration raids in San Francisco and other Northern California cities.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported the sweep would seek to arrest more than 1,500 illegal aliens and send a message that federal immigration policy will be enforced in sanctuary cities.
ICE officials have pointed out that since 2014, 10,000 criminal aliens released by sanctuary policies who subsequently committed new crimes after their release, WND reported in December.