Americans overwhelmingly approve of President Trump’s efforts to clamp down on so-called sanctuary cities, according to the results of a Harvard–Harris poll. The Hillreported the poll’s finding that “80 percent of voters say local authorities should have to comply with the law by reporting to federal agents the illegal immigrants they come into contact with.” One of the key measures that President Trump has directed his Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to explore is cutting off some federal funds to cities which continue to defy federal immigration laws. “The American people are no longer going to have to be forced to subsidize this disregard for our laws,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said.
There are at least 400 sanctuary cities and counties in the United States, which could lose some federal funding as President Trump’s executive order to withhold some federal funding from sanctuary localities is implemented. The nation’s 10 largest cities alone could lose as much as $2.27 billion in annual federal funds if they choose to remain sanctuary cities, according to a Reuters analysis of federal grants.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is running for re-election this year, is among the bullheaded city leaders around the country who are willing to sacrifice the safety and welfare of their own citizens to protect illegal aliens – even some with criminal records. De Blasio threatened to take the Trump administration to court if the Trump administration follows through with funding cuts. And the mayor declared his intention to set aside $250 million a year in a reserve fund for four years because of the “huge amount of uncertainty” created by President Trump’s follow-through on one of his key campaign promises. This is money that should be used to pay for vital municipal services such as hiring more police, which would certainly come in handy if illegal aliens with criminal records continue to be allowed to roam the streets of the city.
Going back to the Harvard-Harris poll, its co-director Mark Penn explained, “The public wants honest immigrants treated fairly and those who commit crimes deported and that’s very clear from the data.” De Blasio and his cohorts, however, could not care less.
Illegal immigrants make up approximately 3.5 percent of the U.S.’s total population. A significant number of illegal aliens living in the United States have committed crimes while residing here unlawfully in the first place. Even the immigration friendly Migration Policy Institute estimated in a 2015 report that “about 690,000 (6.3 percent) of resident unauthorized immigrants have previously been convicted of a felony or a serious misdemeanor.” The number is probably considerably higher than that, but even 690,000 criminals remaining here illegally is bad enough. According to data compiled from the U.S. Sentencing Commission for fiscal year 2015, illegal immigrants were responsible for 30.2 percent of convictions for kidnapping/hostage taking, 17.8 percent of convictions for drug trafficking, 11.6 percent of convictions for fraud, 10.4 percent of convictions for money laundering, 6.1 percent of convictions for assault, and 5.5 percent of convictions for murder.
Nevertheless, De Blasio and his fellow mayors in other Democratic Party-controlled cities would extend the protections of their sanctuary cities to shield even some illegal aliens with criminal records.
For example, under Mayor de Blasio’s 2014 “Sanctuary City” law, New York City officials do not even notify federal immigration agents about the release of illegal aliens whom have been convicted of crimes that are deemed “minor” by the city. Just recently, an illegal immigrant gang member with a criminal record, including convictions for reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon, was released from prison without so much as first notifying the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). An immigration judge had ruled back in 2015 that this particular illegal alien, Estivan Rafael Marques Velasquez, be removed. Instead of honoring ICE’s request to turn Velasquez over to federal authorities when he completed his most recent sentence for disorderly conduct, city officials did not even give ICE a heads-up before they released him.
“This man is, by his own admission, a member of a violent street gang and he was released back in to the community,” said Thomas Decker, the field-office director for ICE’s New York unit. A City Hall spokesperson dismissed Velasquez’s release as a routine matter regarding which the city felt there was no reason to inform ICE because Velasquez’s offense “does not qualify as a violent or serious felony under the city’s local laws.” Velasquez’s prior convictions for criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment apparently did not faze New York City officials.
Fortunately, in this case, ICE was able to track Velasquez down on its own. However, it had to waste precious time and resources in doing so due to the de Blasio administration’s intransigence. Velasquez is now in “detention pending removal,” according to a statement issued by ICE.
Things did not turn out so well in San Francisco in July 2015, when an illegal alienwith seven felony convictions, whom had been previously deported from the U.S. five times, allegedly killed 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle. Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez had allegedly used a stolen gun in firing the bullet that struck Ms. Steinle in the back. The San Francisco sheriff’s department had Sanchez in custody, but released him without honoring a detainer request from ICE to hold Sanchez until immigration authorities could pick him up and detain him pending deportation proceedings. San Francisco’s sheriff defended the premature release, saying that his department was simply following procedures and local laws.
San Francisco is estimated to be protecting approximately 30,000 illegal immigrant residents. Instead of reconsidering its coddling of illegal immigrants, even those with criminal records, San Francisco has doubled down. It sued the Trump administration on account of the executive order that President Trump issued targeting sanctuary cities for possible cuts in federal funding. San Francisco’s city attorney, Dennis Herrera, claimed that President Trump’s executive order was unconstitutional because it “tries to turn city and state employees into federal immigration enforcers.”
The Trump administration is not trying to deputize city and state employees against their will to serve as “federal immigration enforcers.” But it does expect that local and state government employees sworn to uphold the law will not go out of their way to frustrate enforcement of judicial removal orders or violate federal law against harboring or shielding from detection any alien who “remains in the United States in violation of law.”
The left can call for “resistance” against President Trump’s policies all they want. However, on illegal immigration and sanctuary cities, the vast majority of Americans are clearly with the president.