L. A. Mayor, Police Chief, City Attorney Agree: Okay to Release Criminal Aliens

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

July 12, 2014

While cheering throngs of immigration advocates looked on, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced on July 7 that the city will no longer honor Immigration Customs and Enforcement holds on jailed aliens unless a judicial official issues a probable cause warrant.

Police Chief Charlie Beck and City Attorney Mike Feuer added their endorsements of Garcetti’s risky decision. Beck illogically insisted that Los Angeles residents don’t have to worry about their safety even though convicted criminals will slip through the new system when they are released into the general public.

A Department of Homeland Security detainer is issued to federal, state and local enforcement agencies (LEAs) to advise them that ICE intends to take possession of an alien for possible removal within 48 hours after he’s freed. ICE’s policy helps protect communities from potential crimes that may be committed by known offenders, a practice that everyone should approve of.

But in recent months, the American Civil Liberties Union and pro-immigration activists have stepped up their objections and successfully cowed an increasing number of cities to ignore the detainers. The ACLU sent letters to various states to point out that ICE holds are only requests and that cities are not legally bound to obey them.

Then, Oregon federal judge Janice Stewart ruled that LEAs must not comply with ICE detainers. At issue was whether LEAs should treat the detainer as something they “shall” comply with pursuant to the federal regulation or consider it as a request. Immediately after Judge Stewart’s ruling, nine Oregon sheriffs announced they would release arrested aliens upon completion of their sentence and before ICE could charge them. The Oregon case influenced Los Angeles, probably already inclined toward ignoring the ICE holds, to formalize its new policy.

Garcetti and Beck, it should be noted, have both taken the California Constitution Oath of Office which obliges them to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California against all enemies foreign and domestic…” A criminal alien represents, at the least, a potential threat to law-abiding Californians and should not be released into the general public as Garcetti and Beck are so willing and eager to do.

Adding insult to injury, Garcetti said that he wants to ensure that illegal immigrants are treated with respect and dignity, implying that Californians treat aliens disrespectfully and indignantly. Here’s a brief check list of what an alien living in Los Angeles or anywhere else in California can expect, all of which prove that Garcetti is misguided in his judgment.

Even before Garcetti’s ill-advised decision, the 2013 Trust Act made it improbable that illegal immigrants would be deported for anything other than capital crimes. Last year, Governor Jerry Brown also signed a bill that will let aliens become lawyers. Starting in 2013, the California Dream Act allowed aliens to qualify for Cal Grants, previously reserved for citizen students only. This entitlement supplements the 2001 AB 540 that gives aliens instate tuition. In 2015, illegal immigrants will be issued driver’s licenses.

These benefits come on top of those already granted to aliens under federal law, free K-12 education and, the most precious, automatic birth right citizenship to the American-born children of alien parents.

The most convincing evidence of magnanimity toward illegal aliens is found in a new report that shows illegal immigrants and their children cost California taxpayers more than $25 billion annually. Garcetti should read it.

The current border surge proves that the more California does on behalf of illegal immigrants, the more illegal immigration it will get. Since Los Angeles is so close to Mexico, the biggest sender of aliens and the country through which the Central American minors travel seemingly unimpeded to get to the U.S., Garcetti should toughen his stance and order his law enforcement officers to comply with ICE detainers.

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