Sanctuary Cities: Havens for Illegal Immigrant Criminals

By Joe Guzzardi
November 2, 2015
 
November 1 was National Remembrance Day, the annual memorial set aside to honor American victims killed by illegal immigrants. While most people immediately recognize Kate Steinle’s name and know the details of her murder on a popular San Francisco pier at the hands of a five-times deported, seven-times convicted alien felon, unlawful immigrants violent crime spree is greater than many realize.
 
The Houston-based Remembrance Project and its national director Maria Espinoza are working to raise awareness about the inherent dangers that sanctuary cities like San Francisco pose. Sanctuary cites, of which there are more than 300 throughout the U.S., allow local jurisdictions to ignore federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers placed on known illegal immigrant criminals.
 
Take for example another California case, that of Mexican national and illegal alien Francisco Chavez, whose arrest record dates back to 2006 and includes felony assault, drunken driving, and a conviction for selling controlled substances. Recently, Chavez was arrested in San Luis Obispo for beating his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter nearly to death. The child sustained two broken arms and other life-threatening injuries. Yet after the judge ignored an ICE detainer, Chavez posted bail, and the sheriff’s office released him. Chavez is considered an at-large fugitive.
 
Another example: Santa Barbara County, adjacent to San Luis Obispo, was the site of a heinous murder earlier this summer. Victor Aureliano Martinez Ramirez, an illegal immigrant with an extensive criminal history, was charged with the rape, torture and murder of 64-year-old Santa Maria Air Force veteran Marilyn Pharis. Ramirez had been arrested six times in 15 months, including once just before he allegedly attacked Pharis.
 
While President Obama turns his back, and Congress does nothing, illegal immigrants have killed or maimed thousands of Americans. Many of the victims’ families traveled to DC on July 21 to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Despite the heartbreaking individual stories, the Senate did not pass a bill which earlier cleared the House that would have defunded sanctuary cities and impose what’s known as “Kate’s Law,” a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for any illegal immigrant who re-enters the U.S after having been convicted of an aggravated felony, or having been twice convicted of illegally re-entering the U.S. The official vote hardly mattered. Obama had promised to veto the legislation should it ever reach his desk.
 
Although a 1996 federal law specifically prohibits sanctuary cities, the current total is about 340 including most major metropolitan areas. Sanctuary cities and the crimes they spawn are a growing problem. During an eight-month period last year, sanctuary cities released thousands of criminal illegal immigrants. Later, 1,800 of them were re-arrested for new offenses.
 
The Obama administration’s apparent disregard toward suffering Americans is incomprehensible. Mary Ann Mendoza, whose son, police Sgt. Brandon Mendoza, was killed when a drunk alien driver high on meth and going the wrong way on the freeway slammed into his vehicle, told of the families’ frustrations in their attempts to reach out to the White House.
 
Mendoza said that Remembrance Project members wrote to President Obama on three separate occasions pleading for an audience, but the president never even acknowledged their letters. Yet Obama has met privately with “DREAMERs” who bemoan the difficulties aliens have in getting accepted into college.
 
Ending sanctuary cities is about stopping criminals and keeping communities safe. When illegal immigrants commit violent crimes, they must be arrested and deported—that’s the law which Obama should but chooses not to enforce.
 
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Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org
 
 
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