For Sanctuary Cities, business as usual in 2016
By Rick Moran
The Department of Homeland Security released its year-end immigration enforcement report, and the numbers show that sanctuary cities refused to hand over to the federal government more than 2,000 illegal aliens in their custody. Instead, the illegals were released back on to the streets.
Two thousand illegals doesn’t sound like a large number – until you recall that the Obama administration promised to deport only illegal aliens who are “convicted criminals, national security risks or people who are ignoring recent orders of deportation.” In short, sanctuary cities set free more than 2,000 aliens who represent the worst of the worst.
Led by Philadelphia and Cook County in Illinois, which refuse all cooperation with the federal government, sanctuaries are likely to be one of the thorniest issues confronting Donald Trump as president. He has vowed penalties for defying immigration laws.
Mr. Trump’s selection to be attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, has also expressed support for blocking some federal funds from sanctuary cities — and even suggested bringing criminal charges against them.
The Obama administration has also called for sanctuary cities and localities to cooperate, saying communities that refuse to turn over illegal immigrants wanted by federal agents are making the streets less safe and causing more hassle for immigration agents.
“Declined detainers result in convicted criminals being released back into U.S. communities with the potential to re-offend,” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in its 2016 review released Friday.
“Detainer” is the term ICE uses when it asks a local police or sheriff’s department to hold an illegal immigrant for pickup by federal agents. A declined detainer means the locals refused, and instead released the person onto the streets.
ICE has been making some progress. In fiscal year 2015, there were 395 jurisdictions that acted as sanctuaries, refusing to turn over a total of 8,546 illegal immigrants that were being sought by ICE agents. In 2016, the number of jurisdictions dropped to 279, and the total number of illegal immigrants shielded was down by more than three-quarters to 2,008. It’s not a straight 1-to-1 comparison, however, because ICE likely stopped asking in 2016 for detainers on some illegal immigrants in communities that have gained reputations for refusing to cooperate.
Of the 25 largest jurisdictions that offered sanctuary a few years ago, 21 of them have started to work with ICE in some capacity since Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson made a major push to establish better cooperation. Still, even those 21 municipalities don’t fully cooperate, officials acknowledged.
Some, such as Philadelphia and Cook County, home of Chicago, balk at most requests.
Asked over the summer, Philadelphia officials insisted that they attempt to cooperate on “violent criminals or suspected terrorists,” but they didn’t answer specific Justice Department allegations that the city refused cooperation. Cook County, meanwhile, didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment.
The number of sanctuary cities is augmented by universities who are refusing to cooperate with the federal government in handing over any illegal aliens. But authorities face the same difficulity in cutting off federal funds to schools as they do in denying funding for sanctuary cities: it is extremely difficult to separate funds used to care for illegals from general purpose funds. It is probable that the courts would take a dim view of denying money to cities and schools because of this difficulty.
But the effort must be made, if only to protect citizens whose own governments put in danger. Regardless of what Congress does about sanctuary cities, it appears that President Trump will challenge their defiance of federal law and attempt to bring them to heel in order to address the crisis at our borders.
TLB recommends The American Thinker for other timely articles.
About the writer Rick Moran
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