In a weeklong sweep U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement took close to 1,300 illegal aliens into custody, many of whom were arrested in so-called sanctuary cities that harbor illegals and shield them from federal immigration enforcement efforts.
Sanctuary jurisdictions defy U.S. law by, among other things, refusing to honor detainer requests in which ICE asks local jailers to notify the agency before an inmate wanted on immigration charges is released. A detainer request also asks the jailer to hold the individual for up to 48 hours after when the individual would otherwise be released so ICE can take him or her into custody for processing and possible deportation.
“To be clear, the concept of sanctuary cities is perhaps the most ridiculous and outrageous idea I’ve ever encountered in my almost 40 years of law enforcement,” Sheriff Wayne Ivey of Brevard County, Florida, told reporters at the White House Sept. 26.
“To think that there are those in power who took the same oath of office that we did to uphold the Constitution, who would be willing to oppose the rule of law, is completely insane and unacceptable.”
The sanctuary movement gave illegal aliens permission to rob, rape, and murder Americans by, among other things, stigmatizing immigration enforcement. Some left-wingers call sanctuary jurisdictions “civil liberties safe zones” to blur the distinction between citizens and non-citizens by implying illegal aliens somehow possess a civil right to be present in the U.S.
Leftists also like to refer to all migrants, including illegal aliens, simply as “immigrants” in order to further muddy the waters. Those who oppose the Left’s open-border agenda can thus be smeared as anti-immigrant, even though conservatives are generally opposed to illegal immigration, not immigration in general. Los Angeles became the first U.S. sanctuary city in 1979, when its police department issued Special Order 40, a document that forbids police officers from inquiring about the immigration status of individuals not suspected of crimes.
Last week ICE “conducted a targeted, intelligence-based, at-large criminal alien operation,” acting ICE Director Matt Albence said at the White House presser.
“Many of the subjects we were pursuing had been released from uncooperative sanctuary jurisdictions,” Albence said. “Of the nearly 1,300 arrests made this week, our officers arrested nearly 200 who could’ve been arrested at the jail if the detainer had been honored.”
Of the criminal aliens arrested, three had convictions for manslaughter or murder, he said, and 100 had convictions for sexual assault or crimes, “with the victims of nearly half of them being children.” Seventy had convictions for crimes involving drugs and more than 320 had convictions for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Resistance by sanctuary jurisdictions hurts ICE enforcement efforts, he said.
Seventy percent “of the arrests ICE makes are at local jails and state prisons across the country. But we used to make more. And we used to get more criminals off the street before sanctuary laws and policies prevented us from doing so, leaving us with no choice but to expend significant digital resources to locate and arrest criminal aliens and other immigration violators out in the community, including at their homes and places of employment — a more dangerous undertaking for our officers and a more disruptive action within our communities. And simply put, a less effective method.”
Albence said 90 percent of those ICE arrests in the interior of the country are of “convicted criminals, individuals who have been charged with a criminal violation … immigration fugitives … or are illegal reentrants — meaning they’ve been through the immigration court process previously, been deported, and reentered illegally.”
There were 7,000 convictions for illegal entry, a federal felony, last year, he said.
Last year ICE made more than 105,000 criminal arrests and removed more than 145,000 criminal aliens, including the arrests of almost 10,000 gang members and the removal of another 6,000, he said.
Albence explained that ICE has been arresting wanted persons in courthouses because sanctuary jurisdictions have been resisting ICE.
Doing so “is largely necessitated by the fact that law enforcement agencies will not honor our detainers,” he said. “Four or five years ago, before this whole sanctuary city issue exploded, we didn’t really have to go into court rooms because we’d be able to get the individual while they’re sitting in the custody of another law enforcement agency.”
Although police have been arresting suspects in courthouses ever since courthouses were invented – it is a great deal safer for police than raiding a factory or a home — labor lawyer Indira Talwani, now a federal judge in Massachusetts, granted a preliminary injunction June 20 barring ICE agents “from civilly arresting parties, witnesses, and others attending Massachusetts courthouses on official business while they are going to, attending, or leaving the courthouse.” The order specifies that it “does not limit ICE’s criminal arrests of such individuals or its civil arrests of individuals who are brought to Massachusetts courthouses while in state or federal custody.”
To no one’s surprise, Talwani was nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate May 8, 2014.
Albence wondered aloud why immigration lawbreakers should have special immunity from arrest.
“You go to any courthouse in this land and these sheriffs will tell you they will have law enforcement officers from every agency nearby arresting somebody in their courtroom every day.”
“Criminals are mobile; most of them are recidivist,” he said.
“So I guarantee you, I can go into Fairfax County [Virginia] today and there will probably be sheriffs from Loudoun County, sheriffs from Prince William County, maybe a couple of marshals guys that are there waiting for somebody. It’s a common occurrence in law enforcement. The only reason it’s being made controversial is because politicians are looking to exploit it.”
Among the worst exploiters are open-borders lawmakers in Congress, especially left-wing Democrats. Working with squishy Republicans, they have over and over again refused to cut off federal funding for sanctuary cities.
It’s time for them to get with the program.