Sanctuary Mayors to DHS Secretary Kelly: ‘Don’t Look at Us’

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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.

March 31, 2017

Earlier this week, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly met with a group of sanctuary city mayors who brazenly denied their noncooperation with federal immigration officials. The mayors and police chiefs that also attended insisted that they’re working diligently with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Seattle Mayor announces lawsuit claiming withholding funds from
sanctuary cities is unconstitutional.

To hear the mayors tell it, applying the sanctuary label to their cities is flat out inaccurate. The mayors insist that they’re in full compliance with immigration law. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent warning to the mayors that federal funds would be withheld unless they carry out the law sparked heated replies.

  • Austin, Texas, Mayor Steve Adler: “Absolutely untrue” that we don’t cooperate with ICE.

  • Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck: “We cooperate with ICE” and keep them informed about who we have in custody and when we release them.

  • New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu: “Our first priority is to get the bad guys off the street.”

Whether the DOJ will cut federal funding to defiant cities is unclear. But while the debate rages on, pro and anti-sanctuary factions have embarked on very different paths. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott has withheld more than $1 million from Austin whose Sheriff Sally Hernandez is outspoken in her sanctuary advocacy. Gov. Abbott seeks to end sanctuaries statewide, and has proposed to impose more fiscal penalties, to take court action and, if necessary, to remove Sheriff Hernandez from office.

But Seattle Mayor Ed Murray filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration which alleged that denying monies to municipalities is unconstitutional under the 10th Amendment. Murray, willing to forgo the $150 million in federal funds to protect his city’s sanctuary status, urged his fellow mayors to join him in asking that the courts “end the anxiety in our cities and the chaos in our system.” Responding to the Seattle lawsuit, a DOJ representative said, “Failure to deport aliens who are convicted of criminal offenses makes our nation less safe by putting dangerous criminals back on our streets.”

During their meeting with Secretary Kelly, the mayors asked the administration to specifically define a sanctuary city. But a clear definition is already law: local authorities must fully cooperate with federal immigration officials. Failure to do so makes them sanctuaries, cities that harbor aliens. Last year, President Obama’s Attorney General Loretta Lynch alerted several sanctuaries that they may lose 2017 funding unless they comply.

California is advancing a sanctuary state bill, SB 54, which will encourage more illegal immigration, further strain the state’s finances, already deeply in the red, and accelerate population growth.

 

Please go to the CAPS Action Alert page here to urge Sacramento officials to oppose SB 54.

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