On Monday, the nation’s new Attorney General Jeff Sessions held a press briefing in which he reiterated the Trump administration’s plans for dealing with criminal aliens. One of his points was the often quoted warning that any city observing a sanctuary policy for illegal aliens, especially criminal aliens, will very possibly lose some federal financial assistance.
While the Democrats, the news media and immigration activists were prepared to slam Sessions and his boss, President Donald Trump, they discovered that Sessions spoke about continuing some of the Obama administration’s policies regarding immigration. Mr. Sessions’ Justice Department underlings had also told reporters that any changes in policy or new executive orders will probably take place down the road.
Although the Obama administration issued instructions about immigration enforcement in July 2016 during the presidential race between Trump and the eventually defeated Hillary Clinton — including the stipulation that any cities applying for Justice Department grant programs must be in compliance with federal law including immigration enforcement — President Barack Obama and his minions did nothing to back up his proclamations or his verbal instructions.
Sessions noted that local governments applying for grants from the Justice Department will be required to prove their compliance. Sessions also said that the Justice Department in the future will look into additional measures for both federal and local government agencies.
“Fundamentally, we intend to use all the lawful authority we have to make sure that our state and local officials, who are so important to law enforcement, are in sync with the federal government,” Sessions stated during the televised briefing. While Sessions appeared to keep his presentation low-key, he did warn local governments in the midst of adopting “sanctuary” status of the consequences of their actions.
The vast majority of the American people support this common-sense requirement. According to one recent poll, 80 percent of Americans believe that cities that arrest illegal immigrants for crimes should be required to turn them over to immigration authorities.
Such policies cannot continue. They make our nation less safe by putting dangerous criminals back on our streets.
We all remember the tragic case of Kate Steinle, the 32-year-old woman who was shot and killed two years ago in San Francisco as she walked along a pier with her father. The shooter, Francisco Sanchez, was an illegal immigrant who had already been deported five times and had seven felony convictions.
Just eleven weeks before the shooting, San Francisco had released Sanchez from its custody, even though ICE had filed a detainer requesting that he be kept in custody until immigration authorities could pick him up for removal. Even worse, Sanchez admitted that the only reason he came to San Francisco was because of its sanctuary policies.
A similar story unfolded just last week, when Ever Valles, an illegal immigrant and Mexican national, was charged with murder and robbery of a man at a light rail station. Valles was released from a Denver jail in late December, despite the fact that ICE had lodged a detainer for his removal.
The American people are justifiably angry. 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 for 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.
Not only do these policies endanger the lives of every American; just last May, the Department of Justice Inspector General found that these policies also violate federal law.
The President has rightly said that this disregard for the law must end. In his executive order, he stated that it is the policy of the executive branch to ensure that states and cities comply with all federal laws, including our immigration laws.
This policy is entirely consistent with the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) guidance issued last July under the previous administration. This guidance requires state and local jurisdictions to comply and certify compliance with Section 1373 in order to be eligible for OJP grants. It also made clear that failure to remedy violations could result in withholding of grants, termination of grants, and disbarment or ineligibility for future grants.
In the current fiscal year, department’s OJP and Community Oriented Policing Services anticipate awarding more than $4.1 billion dollars in grants.
I urge our nation’s states and cities to consider carefully the harm they are doing to their citizens by refusing to enforce our immigration laws, and to re-think these policies. Such policies make their cities and states less safe, and put them at risk of losing valuable federal dollars.