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California Sanctuary For Criminals

Preventing ICE from removing criminal aliens puts people living in sanctuary communities at risk has been rejected by most liberal political leaders

By California Globe, August 22, 2019 2:30 am

Citizens of foreign countries who enter the United States illegally are by definition criminals.

Granted, the crime is not considered serious under U.S. law, roughly comparable to trespassing, but it is a crime and 50 years ago, in both Democrat and Republican administrations, illegal immigrants who were caught were usually deported. But, beginning in 1971, progressive cities, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Berkeley and the state of Oregon, enacted laws making them sanctuaries for illegal aliens.

In October 1986, Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act (ICRA), which authorized legalization for undocumented immigrants who could prove they had resided in the U.S. continually, although without appropriate documentation, since January 1, 1982, hence the term “undocumented” immigrant.

Since adoption of that act, the odds of deportation for those whose only crime was crossing the U.S. border illegally had dropped to near zero.

During the President George Bush Jr. and Barack Obama administrations, almost all deportations were for illegals who committed additional crimes in the United States with most of the emphasis on violent crimes.

The 9/11 terrorist attack focused public and government attention on both illegal and legal immigration, leading to the 2002 passage of the Homeland Security Act by Congress, and the creation of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The mission of ICE is to protect America from cross-border crime and illegal immigration that threatens national security and public safety. This is distinct from the U. S. Border Patrol which is tasked with securing the nation’s borders.

Until 2016, the leaders of both political parties had repeatedly expressed support for border security and the deportation of criminal aliens, but politicians were never able to agree on the specific policies to accomplish this. During the eight years of the Obama administration, while the president talked tough on illegal immigration and the mainstream media falsely reported increased deportations, they had actually declined. In the last year of his presidency, Bush Jr. had deported 1,171,000 illegal aliens. Under the Obama administration, ICE reported that deportations began to decrease every year, ending in 2016 with 240,000 illegals deported. In 2012, Obama also initiated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which gave temporary legal status to 1.8 million illegals under the age of 31. In 2014, Obama expanded DACA to waive the age limit and include illegals who entered the U. S. prior to 2010. All of this was done without the approval of Congress.

In early 2017, the newly elected President, keeping a promise he made during his campaign, stepped up illegal immigration enforcement at the border and repeatedly announced his plans to substantially increase border security and more aggressively identify and remove illegals who had committed crimes. In response, eight states, including California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Washington state, and scores of cities, including New York, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia enacted sanctuary laws prohibiting local law enforcement cooperation with ICE, even in cases involving criminal aliens.

As ICE began carrying out sweeps to capture criminal aliens for deportation, progressive politicians took action to undermine the effort. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, when notified that ICE would be looking for criminal aliens in her city in January 2018, publicly announced the pending sweep to warn illegals, making her an instant celebrity among progressives.

For several years, ICE has been compiling data on its requests to local police departments to detain criminal illegal aliens eligible for release from jail so that immigration enforcement officers can take them into federal custody for deportation. A recently released Declined Detainer Report, for the first quarter of 2018, indicates how laws which prohibit local police from cooperating with ICE have turned law-abiding citizens into victims at the hands of criminal aliens.

Some examples:

  • On January 7, 2018, Los Angeles Police arrested a 30-year-old alien from Mexico on drug charges. ICE issued a detainer on the offender, but it was not honored and the alien was released from jail. On February 26, 2018, the same illegal alien was arrested for murder.
  • In December of 2017, a 29-year-old criminal alien was arrested in San Luis Obispo for a probation violation. ICE issued a detainer but it was not honored and the defendant was released. A month later the same criminal alien was arrested for rape and ICE issued another detainer, which was not honored and the criminal was again released.
  • On January 17, 2018, a 38-year-old illegal alien was arrested in Los Angeles for domestic violence. An ICE detainer was issued but not honored and the criminal was released. In April the same man was arrested for drunk driving. An ICE detainer was not honored and the criminal alien was released from jail and remains at large.
  • On January 31, 2018, a 41-year-old illegal alien from Honduras was arrested in San Francisco for burglary and fighting with the arresting officer. An ICE detainer was not honored and the alien was released. In April the same illegal alien was arrested by San Francisco Police for drug trafficking and auto theft. After an ICE detainer was not honored the criminal was released and remains at large.
  • On February 13, 2018, a 26-year-old illegal alien from Mexico was arrested in Beverly Hills for auto theft. After an ICE detainer was ignored, the alien was released. On April 13, 2018 the same criminal alien was arrested for attempted murder. ICE issued a detainer that was ignored and the alien was released and remains at large.
  • On February 18, 2018, a 23-year-old illegal alien from Honduras was first arrested in San Francisco on auto theft and receiving stolen property. Between that date and January 21, 2019, the same criminal alien was rearrested 12 more times for multiple crimes including burglary, drug charges, and stealing five cars. Upon each arrest, ICE issued detainers which were not honored and the criminal was released and remains at large.

Dozens of other criminal aliens are identified in the report after multiple arrests and releases for drunk driving, domestic violence, drug trafficking, car thefts, burglaries, and numerous other offenses. The suggestion that preventing ICE from removing criminal aliens puts people living in sanctuary communities at risk has been rejected by most liberal political leaders, immigration activists, and the media, even when the illegal aliens are convicted of murder. Those committed to making our cities and states sanctuaries for criminal aliens are clearly willing to sacrifice the lives and safety of innocent Americans for a political agenda. This has to stop.

Michael Rushford is President of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation.

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