Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing on Sanctuary Policies
By Preston Huennekens | FAIR Take | October 2019
On Tuesday, October 22, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing that examined the prevalence of sanctuary jurisdictions. The hearing highlighted just how far apart the two parties are on this important public safety issue.
Chaired by Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), the committee heard testimony first from Timothy Robbins, the acting executive associate director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) subdivision and from Andrew Murray, a U.S. attorney based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Robbins cited how sanctuary policies have made it difficult for ICE to safely detain and remove dangerous criminal aliens. In years past, ICE was able to enter jails and securely detain criminal aliens there, with no security or safety risk to the alien, the officers, or bystanders. Because of sanctuary policies, ICE has seen a 16 percent decline of jail arrests compared to FY 2018, according to his testimony.
Advocates of sanctuary policies claim they protect criminal aliens from ICE. Robbins explained how that is incorrect. In fact, ICE is more likely to arrest otherwise law-abiding illegal aliens because sanctuary policies drive agents to the streets to make arrests, thereby increasing the likelihood of collateral arrests. His testimony reads:
“Sanctuary laws and policies in place in several jurisdictions force ICE to expend significant resources and utilize less efficient methods to locate and arrest criminal aliens and other immigration violators at large in the community… ICE focuses its limited enforcement resources on public safety threats, in accordance with U.S. immigration law, and its officers are authorized to arrest other aliens who are illegally present in the United States encountered during the course of at-large enforcement actions.”
Sanctuary supporter Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) seemed unfazed by the pleas of law enforcement professionals and families of illegal alien crime victims. Denying the clear connection between illegal immigration and drug smuggling, he exclaimed that “it enrages me, it is the kind of fear and hate language which I think is inconsistent with reality.” Senator Durbin then used an anecdotal example to attack ICE’s mission and asked Robbins, “If you want to make America safer, do you believe that grandmothers who are here undocumented is where ICE should start?”
It is fitting that Senator Tillis chaired this hearing. In July, he introduced S. 2059, the Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act. This important legislation would permit citizens victimized by illegal alien crime to sue states and political subdivisions for their sanctuary policies. Cities that cooperate with federal immigration authorities by honoring detainer notices would be immune from such lawsuits, encouraging governments to reject dangerous sanctuary laws. S. 2059 is co-sponsored by nine other Senators, including Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Interestingly, the committee’s ranking member, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), indicated that she would be interesting in working with Senator Tillis on this effort, citing the murder of Californian Kate Steinle at the hands of an illegal alien.
Although there appears to be some interest for this legislation in the Senate, it would be dead-on-arrival in the House of Representatives, which is far more interested in passing amnesty legislation such as H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act. Until Congress works together to combat these dangerous sanctuary policies, criminal aliens will continue to avoid detection and will continue to needlessly threaten public safety.