Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sanctuary Cities

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The recent murder committed by a twice-deported illegal immigrant gangbanger in a Maryland sanctuary county makes the following information both enraging and unbelievable; nearly 12,000 illegal immigrants with criminal histories were protected from federal authorities by sanctuary jurisdictions in the U.S. during a 19-month period, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) figures obtained by the Washington D.C.-based Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).

A few weeks ago CIS published a map identifying about 300 jurisdictions that have official policies shielding illegal aliens from federal authorities. During a 19-month stretch from January 1, 2014, to September 30, 2015, more than 17,000 federal detainers were rejected by these sanctuary jurisdictions, CIS found.

Around 11,800 of the detainers, or 68%, were issued for individuals with a prior criminal history. “According to ICE statistics, since the Obama administration implemented the new Priority Enforcement Program in July 2015 restricting ICE use of detainers, the number of rejected detainers has declined,” CIS writes in a report accompanying the map. “However, the number of detainers issued by ICE also has declined in 2016, so it is not clear if the new policies are a factor.”

The bottom line is that hundreds of local governments across the nation shield illegal immigrants from the feds, even when they have engaged in criminal activity. In some cases they go on to commit heinous crimes that receive widespread media attention. Judicial Watch has reported many of them and launched investigations, obtaining public records from the jurisdictions that protected the criminal aliens.

Back in 2008 Judicial Watch obtained records from the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department—an agency long renowned for offering sanctuary—related to Edwin Ramos, an illegal alien from El Salvador who murdered three innocent American citizens. Ramos was a member of a famously violent street gang and had been convicted of two felonies as a juvenile (a gang-related assault on a bus passenger and the attempted robbery of a pregnant woman) yet he was allowed to remain in the country.

Judicial Watch also investigated the 2010 case of a drunken illegal alien who killed a nun in Virginia and we sued the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to obtain records. The Bolivian national, Carlos Montano, had a substantial criminal history but federal authorities released him on his own recognizance after two previous arrests. Virginia doesn’t have a statewide sanctuary policy, but Arlington and Chesterfield County do, according to the CIS database.

Judicial Watch’s probe determined that Montano had a revoked license and had previously been arrested on drunk-driving charges when his car crossed a median and slammed into a vehicle carrying three nuns. The two survivors were critically injured. The number of serious crimes committed by illegal aliens who have benefitted from sanctuary policies is undoubtedly on the rise.

Just last summer a case in a small sanctuary town of 40,000 received global media attention over the gruesome nature of the crime. A Haitian illegal immigrant who had spent 17 years in prison for attempted murder, savagely stabbed a young woman in Norwich, Connecticut then stuffed her body in a closet.

At least three deportation orders had been issued for the killer, Jean Jacques, dating back to 2002. Connecticut has long protected illegal immigrants with sanctuary policies and even offers them special drivers’ licenses, known as Drive Only. The state also gives illegal aliens discounted tuition at public colleges and universities and authorities work hard to restrict the feds from deporting illegal immigrants.

In fact, despite President Obama’s amnesty and open-borders policies, Connecticut is always a step ahead when it comes to protecting illegal immigrants and granting them rights. Undoubtedly, this attracts a large population of undocumented aliens like the murderer in this case.

Last week an illegal immigrant member of the notoriously violent MS-13 street gang murdered a teenager in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The 28-year-old gangbanger from El Salvador, Oscar Delgado-Perez, had been deported twice in the last two years, according to a mainstream newspaper.

Nevertheless Delgado-Perez was never removed and, along with two fellow gangbangers, he brutally stabbed an 18-year-old more than 40 times in a Gaithersburg park as the teen begged for his life. Gaithersburg is in Montgomery County, which proudly offers illegal aliens sanctuary. In fact, earlier this year Montgomery County officials publicly reassured illegal aliens that police would play no role in a federal government operation to deport recent undocumented aliens from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.

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The Obama administration rewards sanctuary states, counties and cities that shield violent illegal immigrants from deportation with hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants and one of the biggest recipients recently made headlines for protecting a serial criminal who murdered a young woman. The money flows through the Department of Justice (DOJ), the agency responsible for enforcing the law and defending the interests of the United States. The DOJ is also charged with providing federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime, according to its mission statement, and seeking just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior.

Apparently this doesn’t apply to local governments that support the president’s broad open borders policies, even when they violate federal law. The DOJ doled out $342,168,401 to 10 sanctuary states and cities that proudly reject federal claims for criminal illegal aliens earmarked for removal, according to the agency’s independent watchdog. Among them is Connecticut, a trailblazer in the sanctuary movement that received more than $69 million in grants from the DOJ. Connecticut has long protected illegal immigrants with sanctuary policies and even offers them special drivers’ licenses, known as Drive Only. The state also gives illegal aliens discounted tuition at public colleges and universities and authorities work hard to restrict the feds from deporting illegal immigrants. Last year an illegal immigrant who had spent 17 years in prison for attempted murder stabbed a 25-year-old woman to death in Norwich, a city of about 40,000 residents. The murderer had been earmarked for deportation at least three times.

California, also a renowned sanctuary state that offers illegal immigrants a number of taxpayer-funded perks, topped the list with $132,409,635 in DOJ grants. Judicial Watch has investigated the state’s illegal sanctuary policies for years and back in 2008 launched a California public records request with the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department to obtain the arrest and booking information on Edwin Ramos, an illegal alien from El Salvador who murdered three innocent American citizens. Ramos was a member of a renowned violent street gang and had been convicted of two felonies as a juvenile (a gang-related assault on a bus passenger and the attempted robbery of a pregnant woman) yet he was allowed to remain in the country. Last year Judicial Watch obtained records showing that violent crime—including murder and rape—in the Bay area has skyrocketed since the San Francisco Sheriff and City Council expanded illegal alien sanctuary policies in 2013.

Under the ordinance San Francisco law enforcement agencies are required to ignore most U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers. Judicial Watch is also investigating whether the city violated the law again with its sanctuary policy that led to the release of Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an illegal immigrant deported five times who gunned down Kate Steinle at one of the most popular tourist spots in San Francisco.

Two cities—New York and Chicago—got $60,091,942 and $28,523,222 respectively from the DOJ and Philadelphia followed with $16,505,312. South Florida’s Miami-Dade County received $10,778,815, Milwaukee, Wisconsin got $7,539,572, Cook County, Illinois $6,018,544, Clark County, Nevada $6,257,9851 and Orleans Parish, Louisiana $4,737,964. In some cases elected officials in these municipalities brag about defying federal immigration laws. One, the mayor of Chicago, is mentioned in the DOJ Inspector General report for publicly stating: “We are not going to turn people over to ICE, and we are not going to check their immigration status.” The city also prohibits employees from cooperating with federal immigration authorities, the report says.

Other recipients of our taxpayer dollars do the same with no consequences. The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office has an “ICE Procedures” policy that states the agency shall not initiate any immigration status investigation into individuals in their custody or provide the feds with information on an inmate’s release date or address.

Philadelphia’s mayor issued an executive order stating that the pending release of the subject of an ICE immigration detainer shall not be provided to the agency unless the person has been convicted of a felony and New York enacted a law years ago restricting jail personnel from communicating with ICE regarding an inmate’s release date, incarceration status or court dates. The law resulted in ICE closing its office on Riker’s Island and ceasing operations on any other NYC Department of Corrections property, the report reveals. It’s beyond comprehension that these law-breaking local governments are being rewarded with federal funds distributed by the agency responsible for enforcing the law.

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Kate Steinle was brutally murdered on July 1 of this year by a man who reportedly was deported five times, providing a dramatic underscoring of presidential candidate Donald Trump’s politically incorrect comments on illegal immigration. Steinle’s murder fed a larger national conversation about illegals, and issue that until recently seemed foreordained to disappear in a legislative orgy of amnesty and open borders.

The Republican-dominated House of Representatives acted in response to the Steinle tragedy, voting Thursday 241-179 to pass H.R. 3009, the “Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act.” The bill is intended to deny federal law enforcement funding to the so-called “sanctuary cities” that provide protection for illegals who witness crimes. Five Republicans and six Democrats crossed party lines in the predominantly partisan vote.

The Obama administration, predictably, promised a veto shortly before the vote on the bill. At the same time Kate Steinle’s father was testifying before the House, the administration’s Office of Management and Budget released the following statement:

“This bill fails to offer comprehensive reforms needed to fix the nation’s broken immigration laws, undermines current administration efforts to remove the most dangerous convicted criminals and to work collaboratively with state and local law enforcement agencies, and threatens the civil rights of all Americans by authorizing state and local officials to collect information regarding any private citizen’s immigration status, at any time, for any reason, and without justification. If the President were presented with H.R. 3009, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto this bill.”

Opinion on the bill, unsurprisingly, is sharply divided on party lines.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, of Maryland, criticized the bill for degrading relations between immigrants and police. “Those convicted of committing acts of criminal violence must always face the full force of the law,” he said. “However, this legislation would only undermine the trust between immigrant communities and local law enforcement. Second-guessing decisions made by law enforcement, withholding public safety funding, and demonizing immigrants will neither make our communities safer nor fix our broken immigration system.”

The ACLU echoed Hoyer’s arguments on its official blog. Joanne Lin of the Washington office of the ACLU said bluntly the bill offers “no solution” the illegal immigration problem.

Other House Democrats used the bill as an opportunity to mock Trump, dubbing the bill “the Trump bill,” and noting sarcastically he is more effective at getting legislation to the floor than his primary opponents.

Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-New Jersey, addressed the Trump accusations. “This is a valid concern that we’re voting on today. I’m not going to let Donald Trump dictate my vote.”

Other Republicans universally rejected the rest of the left-wing narrative, hammering home repeatedly that the Obama administration and the “sanctuary cities” are not only breaking the law, but contributing directly to violent crime against citizens.

Bombastic and popular Rep. Trey Gowdy put the issues succinctly when he asked “A refuge for whom? A sanctuary for whom? A sanctuary for Kate Steinle? Or a refuge for a convicted felon with a 25-year-long criminal history?”

Rep. Garret Graves, R-Louisiana noted the huge numbers of illegals during Obama’s tenure, and the problems they cause. “Reports indicate that over two and half million new illegal immigrants have flowed into America since 2009,” Graves said. “Cities that are providing sanctuary to these illegal immigrants perpetuate the problem by providing a safe haven from law enforcement and discouraging people from following the legal process to become Americans. These Sanctuary Cities place an additional burden on already strained federal resources.”

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, was sharply critical of the Obama administration’s conduct on immigration. Obama, King says, weakened our immigration laws by changing the verbiage in ICE detainers. These detainers are meant to keep illegals in custody so that immigration officials have time to determine if deportation is called for.

King also pointed out how many thousands of illegals are released from prisons as a result of ICE not being enforced, citing 48,000 violent crimes by 25,000 released individuals in 2011 alone. “So the revelation is breathtaking in this nation all because we refuse to enforce the law,” he said. “And this Congress saw it coming. I saw it 10 years ago. All because of politics, they’re pandering to people they know are law breakers. This was 100 percent preventable.”

House Speaker John Boehner summed it all up neatly. “We had a horrible tragedy that was preventable,” he said. “Cities do not have the right to ignore federal laws that require them to incarcerate people who commit serious felonies.”

As this episode once again demonstrates, the Obama administration and the hard left have no regard for the laws of the land. The leftists in the House, and the White House, are more than happy to continue to flout the rules, allowing massive numbers of illegals – who commit violent crimes, thefts, and DUI at a rate far greater than citizens – into our country with no repercussions. Their support for the sanctuary policies is further evidence that the left has no interest in protecting American citizens. The GOP might deny it, but Trump’s brash statements on immigration have changed the debate – and might just end up saving American lives.

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