By Joe Guzzardi
December 11, 2015
The San Bernardino slaughter continues to dominate headlines, and has brought demands from nervous Americans that the White House take immediate steps to secure the nation. Despite the outcry for action, Congress, before its winter recess, is tiptoeing toward a half-loaf approach to pausing refugee resettlement and tightening visa regulations.
Yet another insidious example of federal neglect has cost hundreds more American lives including the 14 lost in San Bernardino, and will inevitably be linked to more deaths—sanctuary cities. On sanctuary, which protects apprehended criminal aliens, the Senate formally voted in October not to take action.
As many as 340 sanctuary cities operate in more than 26 states. Because of sanctuary policies, about 1,000 criminals are released on average each month. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, between January 1 and September 30, 2014, local sanctuaries freed 9,295 alien offenders that ICE had targeted for deportation. More than 600 people were released at least twice.
The statistics are frightening: 5,947 of the criminal aliens or 62 percent had significant prior criminal histories or presented other public safety concerns. Fifty-eight percent of those with priors had felony charges or convictions; 37 percent had serious misdemeanor charges, and 5 percent had multiple misdemeanors. An alarming number of the total released offenders—2,320-—were subsequently arrested for new crimes. If federal law were enforced, the criminals would be in deportation proceedings instead of walking free.
In October, the Senate ignored those shocking findings and blocked a bill that would have terminated federal grant money given to cities that maintain sanctuary status. The bill would also have increased the maximum prison term for illegal immigrants who entered the U. S. after being deported, from a two-year sentence to a mandatory five-year sentence.
Since Congress won’t act, Judicial Watch, an organization that promotes government integrity, recently announced that it filed a taxpayer lawsuit in the California Superior Court to end the Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi-authorized March 2015 expansion of San Francisco's sanctuary ordinance. Mirkarimi’s order, which made national headlines this summer when five-time deported, seven-time convicted felon Juan Sanchez-Lopez murdered Kate Steinle, prohibits San Francisco Sheriff's Department personnel from exchanging information with ICE about the citizenship or immigration status of its inmates.
The directive read in part that "absent a court issued warrant, a signed court order, or other legal requirement authorizing ICE access…” SFSD staff will deny ICE information about inmates’ immigration or citizenship status. At issue is that Mirkarimi’s mandate violates federal law which, pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1373, states that federal, or local government entities or officials may not prohibit or restrict any government entity or official from exchanging such information. The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction prohibiting the SFSD from expending taxpayer funds on Mirkarimi’s directive, and a judgment declaring it illegal. San Francisco receives about $200 million annually in federal funding.
Former Assistant FBI Director said the U.S. should be deeply worried about sanctuary cities which he called “unimaginable.” As Kallstrom asked: “Sanctuary from what? Sanctuary from U.S. laws…sanctuary from dealing with the law enforcement agencies?”
The federal government’s formula of an expansive refugee resettlement program along with refusal to enforce existing immigration laws while it releases criminal aliens is guaranteed to cause more deaths to innocent citizens.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]