Fifteen months ago in sanctuary city San Francisco, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a five-time deported alien, and seven-time convicted felon, shot and killed 32-year-old Kate Steinle in broad daylight at a popular tourist area. Both before and after Ms. Steinle’s murder, hundreds of Americans senselessly lost their lives at the hands of criminal, deportable aliens harbored in sanctuary cities like San Francisco.
Yet despite a national outcry against the nation’s estimated 325 sanctuary cities like San Francisco, on September 30, a federal judge single-handedly created six sanctuary states. Northern District of Illinois Judge John Lee’s new order will bar Immigration and Customs Enforcement from placing 48-hour detainers on illegal aliens held in local Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Kansas, Missouri and Wisconsin jails. In the process, Judge Lee voided existing detainers in those states.
Judge Lee declared that ICE will be required to obtain a warrant for every individual before it issues a post-release detainer unless they verify that each suspected alien is a flight risk, a difficult if not impossible task. Essentially, nonenforcement of immigration law now officially has the federal court’s blessing.
Daniel Horowitz, a lawyer who writes for the Conservative Review, branded Judge Lee’s action “a radical violation of American sovereignty,” an opinion with which millions agree. Horowitz notes that, by definition, illegal aliens without valid visas are the consummate flight risk, and why the relevant statute, 8 U.S.C. § 1357(a)(2), authorizes ICE to apprehend illegal aliens without a warrant when the suspected alien “is likely to escape before a warrant can be obtained for his arrest.”
Immigration enforcement is, at best, sporadic; at worst, nonexistent. In recent years, more than 925,000 illegal aliens have been ordered removed, but are still in the country. About 60 percent of them come from four countries: Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Most have simply walked, or were trafficked, across the Southwest border, and have immediately, but without legal cause, petitioned for amnesty. At the same time, last year the Obama administration released 19,723 criminal aliens, and interior enforcement continues in steep decline. Despite the Obama administration’s insistence that criminal removals are his priority, that category has declined by more than half, from about 150,000 in 2010 and 2011 to about 63,000 last year.
By preventing ICE from doing its job, Judge Lee has put citizens at risk. Aliens are rarely if ever detained because of their immigration status, but
instead because they’ve committed a nonimmigration related crime, often felonies. Merely by their unlawful presence, aliens are, once their illegal status is confirmed, deportable. Now, post-Judge Lee, Horowitz predicts that immigration lawyers will be able to endlessly litigate the ever-declining numbers of deportation orders until the alien prevails. In the upside-down Obama White House, even criminal aliens are released into an unsuspecting vulnerable public.
Much of the blame for the willful failure to implement immigration law rests with President Obama, his similarly minded judicial allies like Judge Lee and anti-American open borders advocates. But the Republican controlled Congress and specifically the Paul Ryan-led House of Representatives are equally culpable. In December, Ryan’s $1.1 trillion Omnibus budget approved millions in continued federal funding grants for sanctuary cities despite outcries from victims’ families.
The Obama administration still has time to further undermine immigration laws. Based on the President’s immigration track record, Obama’s critics should brace for the worst.