Numerous cities and local jurisdictions have declared themselves to be “sanctuary” to illegal or undocumented aliens, even while the term remains not entirely well-defined. In practice, it means that local police departments do not ask those they arrest to declare their federal immigrant status, while some have refuse to advise federal immigration authorities of the release of aliens in local custody despite receiving detainer requests from federal agencies. Prominent among these jurisidictions are New York City and San Francisco.
 
According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, there are at least five reasons why such “sanctuary” policies are a danger to the broader public.
 
1) “Police in some sanctuary communities insist that not having sanctuary policies reduces cooperation between immigrant communities and local police, thus hurting public safety.  There's only been one academic study on that thesis, and it found the exact opposite to be true.  The University of Virginia and the Police Executive Research Forum tested the theory that police cooperation with immigration authorities results in lower crime reporting and greater victimization in immigrant communities.  The report found no evidence of a decline in crime reporting by immigrants after implementing a policy to screen all offenders for legal status and refer illegal and criminal aliens to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
 
2) “Current sanctuary policies result in dangerous criminal aliens being released back onto the streets.  ICE issues detainer requests for aliens who are in local custody and who it believes are removable from the United States.  During a recent one week period, (January 28 to February 3, 2017) Travis County, Texas denied 142 ICE detainer requests , releasing aliens convicted of: assault (8); domestic violence (10) and DUI (14); or charged with: Indecent Exposure to a Minor/Child Sex Offense: 6; DUI (16). 
 
3) “Sanctuary policies are not necessary to "build trust" with immigrant communities.    In fact, if an illegal alien provides helpful information to police, they may qualify for a "U," "T," "S" or "VAWA" visa, which would allow them to apply for permanent legal status in the U.S.
 
4) “Sanctuary campuses provide a welcome safe haven for would-be terrorists entering the U.S. on student visas.  One such terrorist , Hani Hasan Hanjour, entered the U.S. on an F-1 student visa and on 9/11 flew a  hijacked airplane into the Pentagon. Hanjour was able to repeatedly depart and re-enter the U.S., despite repeated student visa violations because of the Immigration and Naturalization Service's (INS) skittishness over bad press when arresting and deporting foreign students. As a result, it simply ignored immigration violations by F-1, M-1, and J-1 students. The current spate of college and university refusals to cooperate with ICE is converting campuses into refuges for criminals and terrorists.
 
5) “Sanctuary policies hurt illegal immigrants. With the rise in human trafficking and sex slavery, police who turn a blind eye to a van full of illegal immigrants could actually be condemning them to a life of forced prostitution or slavery.”
 
In late March Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced plans to crack down on “Sanctuary Cities” by withholding Justice Department grants. He also hinted that further “detrimental” actions can be expected by jurisdictions that include New York City and Cook County, Illinois. 
 
Led by Rep. Steve King (R-IA), Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), and Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), a group of Representatives sent a request that demanded that language be inserted in bills funding the Departments of Homeland Security, Commerce, Justice, and other agencies, that prevents the use of those funds in jurisdictions out of compliance with federal immigration laws. They were joined by 32 other Republican representatives, many of whom have ties to the House Freedom Caucus. Their request recounts the 2015 murder of Kate Steinle in San Francisco, and the recent and gruesome gang rape of a 14-year old girl in a Maryland high school. The alleged perpetrators in both cases are illegal aliens who escaped deportation, despite having been detained on multiple occasions, due to lax enforcement of federal immigration law.


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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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