When safe-haven cities for illegal immigrants result in harm to American citizens, it’s time to shut them down.
That’s the conclusion of a damning new report on so-called “sanctuary cities” by the Center for Immigration Studies.
The report reveals more than 8,000 criminal illegal aliens have been released by hundreds of law-defying cities and counties over an eight-month period in 2014.
The 276 sanctuary cities and counties are in 43 states and the District of Columbia.
The worse offenders, those that had the highest number of ICE detainment notices refused, were found to be in the following jurisdictions:
• Santa Clara County, California.
• Los Angeles County, California.
• Alameda County, California.
• San Diego County, California.
• Miami-Dade County, Florida.
Sanctuary states include North Dakota and Rhode Island, according to CIS.
Jessica Vaughan, a CIS research fellow, authored the report, “Rejecting Detainers, Endangering Communities: Sanctuaries release thousands of criminals,” in which she found 63 percent of those illegals freed by local authorities had serious prior criminal histories or were labeled a public safety concern, but they were released anyway.
CIS obtained the records from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Nearly 1,900 of the released offenders ended up being re-arrested for another crime within that eight-month period, accumulating 7,491 new charges, after their release.
More than 1,000 or 60 percent of these illegal immigrants were not re-arrested by ICE but remained at large.
“ICE’s analysis shines a light on the public safety problems created when local sanctuary policies cause the release of criminal aliens that ICE is seeking for deportation,” Vaughan wrote.
The issue of sanctuary cities has come under a spotlight since 32-year-old Kate Steinle was shot to death July 1 while walking with her family on a pier in San Francisco. Her accused killer, Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez of Mexico, had seven previous felony convictions and had been deported from the U.S. five times. Yet, San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi released him into the community to commit more violent crimes against Americans.
‘More common than realized’
“San Francisco’s sanctuary policies do not represent mainstream law-enforcement practice in America, but they are more widespread than is commonly realized,” according to Vaughan’s report.
To prevent further harm, Congress should act by clarifying in federal law that complying with ICE detainers and notifications is not optional, she said.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., introduced legislation last week that would penalize sanctuary cities and counties, as well as states by withholding federal funds from them in three key areas.
Hunter, in a July 13 letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte explaining his legislation, said his bill would withhold state criminal alien assistance funding for prisons, justice-assistance grant funding and community-oriented policing funds “for states and localities that circumvent the federal government’s efforts to enforce our immigration laws.”
Will GOP leadership again offer cover for sanctuary cities?
Hunter has introduced similar legislation in previous years, and it went nowhere under the leadership of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
Whether the highly publicized slaying of Steinle will give the Republican leadership any incentive to push the bill to a vote this time around remains to be seen.
The actions of San Francisco authorities in releasing Sanchez “were reckless and irresponsible,” Hunter wrote in his letter to Goodlatte. “Not only have they clearly threatened public safety, but they fly in the face of a society that is built on the rule of law.”
Vaughan told WND she is concerned that Hunter’s legislation doesn’t go far enough.
“It will take more than that. First, Congress needs to clarify that compliance with all ICE detainers and notifications is mandatory, and that state and local governments cannot obstruct a legitimate, lawful federal mission,” she said. “The Obama administration has adopted a policy reversing longstanding federal regulation to that effect, so Congress needs to up the ante and specify that cooperation with ICE is not optional.”
In addition, Vaughan said she cannot tell if Hunter’s bill defines what is meant by non-cooperation. “That would be necessary before any funding can be barred,” she said.
And San Francisco is not alone in its defiance of federal immigration laws.
“More than 200 state and local jurisdictions across the country have sanctuary policies that seek to circumvent the federal government’s ability to place into custody those that are here illegally,” Hunter wrote. “These policies cause demonstrable harm, and cities should be held accountable if they choose to actively undermine federal immigration enforcement.”
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said he believes Congress will be forced to act on sanctuary cities soon.
“If any good comes out of this horrible tragedy, it’s forcing Congress, I believe, to address the whole issue of sanctuary cities and how it’s defined and what measures the federal government can take,” King told the Washington Examiner. “For instance, I believe we shouldn’t be keeping illegals from going to hospitals because that could just cause diseases to spread. On the other hand, you can’t have criminals convicted and being released and going back and forth between Mexico and the U.S. I think we should focus on the criminal aspect of it, crimes that are committed, and talk about how we can cut off federal funding to cities that do not cooperate with ICE.
“Up until now, the general outlook from the media is that it’s very humanitarian to have these cities, and that’s protecting the innocent people,” King continued. “Well, as you can see, there are consequences. You have to have orderly society, orderly immigration, and you’re going to see social consequences, including murder. You just can’t continue to have this type of almost anarchy, not just coming across the border but cities and states defying immigration laws.”
Watch interview with Rep. Peter King on sanctuary cities:
In an email to WND, Hunter released the following statement on sanctuary cities:
“States and cities that refuse to enforce federal immigration laws directly undermine enforcement efforts and – as recent events have shown – present a real danger to citizens. If a state or one of its cities wants to call itself a sanctuary and deliberately ignore the law, then Congress shouldn’t hesitate to withhold federal funding until there’s compliance. One way we show we’re serious is by hitting localities where it hurts – and that’s the purse.
“And one program that most certainly should cease reimbursement is SCAAP (State Criminal Alien Assistance Program), which is intended to mitigate the costs of incarceration, and extends to salaries and overtime. And we should look to other programs too, but there should be wide support for a response, such as this proposal, that exercises a constitutional prerogative of Congress in order to uphold the law.”
Those jurisdictions that do not comply with all detainers should face sanctions and be debarred from certain kinds of federal funding, Vaughan said. The Davis-Oliver Act has provisions to address this problem directly.
Obama policies ‘makes problem worse’
“The problem of sanctuaries is likely to get worse now that the Obama administration has ended the Secure Communities program and given agencies free rein to ignore ICE detainers and notifications under the new Priority Enforcement Program,” she said.
A local sheriff’s refusal to comply with ICE detainers has become a public safety problem in many communities, and a mission crisis for ICE that demands immediate attention.
Vaughan said many legal experts believe the federal government has grounds to sue San Francisco in federal court for obstructing its enforcement of federal immigration laws. But that’s wishful thinking.
“That’s a good idea in theory, but the Obama administration has made it clear that it will assert federal supremacy in immigration matters only when the states like Arizona are trying to help enforce the laws, not when states like California try to block enforcement,” she said.
The Obama administration has also given sanctuaries free rein to ignore detainers by ending the successful Secure Communities program and replacing it with the Priority Enforcement Program. This new program explicitly allows local agencies to disregard ICE notifications of deportable aliens in their custody by replacing detainers with “requests for notification.”
“The only truly effective and lasting solution is for Congress to spell out in federal law that local law enforcement agencies must cooperate with ICE by complying with all detainers or face sanctions in the form of disqualification from certain kinds of federal funding. Such a provision has been included in the Davis-Oliver Act, introduced by Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), and named in honor of two deputies who were killed last year by a previously deported illegal alien cartel operative in California.”
The Davis-Oliver Act has earned the endorsement of the National Sheriffs’ Association as well as many individual sheriffs and police chiefs, indicating that Sheriff Mirkarimi’s sanctuary policies are well out of the mainstream of law-enforcement practice in America. Congress — and the presidential candidates — should join the sheriffs’ association in working for a new approach that will keep the list of victims from growing, her report concludes.
Retired U.S. Navy Capt. Joseph R. John, chairman of the Combat Veterans for Congress PAC, cheered Hunter’s work to prod the Republican leadership into taking action against sanctuary cities and counties.
In previous Congresses, Hunter “repeatedly tried, without success, to get the Republican leadership in the House to support his legislation,” he said in a statement emailed to WND.
Obama, ‘inept members of Congress’ to blame
“The Obama administration, inept members of Congress on both sides of the isle, and the left-of-center liberal media establishment have been covering up the thousands of crimes committed by convicted criminal illegal aliens against American citizens in 300-plus safe harbor sanctuary cities, counties, and states,” John said. “Sanctuary policies are providing protection for Mexican drug cartels smuggling narcotics, violent criminal gangs from below the wide open Southern border like MS-13, Mexican human smugglers, and convicted criminal illegal aliens whose presence in the USA has been harmful and dangerous to American citizens.
“Those foreign criminal illegal aliens migrate to, and operate in safe harbor sanctuary cities, counties, and states; they are, for the most part, immune from deportation by ICE and from arrest from local and state law enforcement officers,” he continued. “Local, county, state, and federal politicians who protect criminal illegal aliens, who have been injuring and killing American citizens every day throughout the nation, only view the victims of vicious crimes as ‘collateral damage’ that are acceptable to them, because it would be politically incorrect to condemn them publicly.”