Time for the weekly and pre-Thanksgiving Day edition of Blogger Candidate Forum. Before we get going on today's subjects: Sanctuary Cities, a couple of words on two current events items. First, (sarcasm alert) thank you Federal Communications Commission for ending net neutrality. Your lame attempt to open up competition for Internet providers will effectively throttle the public forum. Way to go. A reminder to the FCC, the Internet has become the public square of the 21st century. By micro-managing the public forum, you are choking off whatever constructive free exchange of opinions on issues that affect us. Second, calling all Alabama voters, you still have time to register for the December 12 special election. The registration deadline is November 27. For more information, please go to vote.org. That said, on to sanctuary cities.
Amid the president's latest Twitter feud, daily sexual harassment and assault revelations, a story about sanctuary cities made headlines. Yesterday, Federal Judge William H. Orrick handed down a ruling that permenantly blocked Mr. Donald Trump's executive order to withhold funds from cities that curtail their cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed, in April, by the city of San Francisco and Santa Clara County, and follows a temporary injunction blocking the order from taking effect. San Francisco is one of the declared sanctuary cities around the country, along with Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Denver. Why bring this up?
Blogger brings this up because the above mentioned cities, as well as several other cities, were the target of a four-day ICE action in September of this year. Tanvi Misra reports in her CityLab article, "Why Trump Administration Targeted These 10 Jurisdictions in Its Latest Raids," "In a four-day operation, Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) rounded up [ice.gov; Sept. 28, 2017; date accessed Nov. 22, 2017] almost 500 individuals in many so-called sanctuary cities..." Philadelphia experienced the greatest number of detention (107), Los Angeles was second (101), followed by Denver (63). These numbers may not represent a lot of people but the cities that the raids took place is important.
Acting ICE director Tom Homan said in a statement:
Sanctuary jurisdiction that do not honor detainers or allow us access to jails and prisons are shielding criminal aliens from immigration enforcement acne creating a magnet for illegal immigration...As a result, ICE is forced to dedicate more resources to conduct at-large arrests in these communities. (Ibid)
Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Denver, as well as San Francisco, Baltimore, Chicago, New York, Portland, Washington D.C., Boston all have one other thing in common. They are in states that voted Democrat in the 2016 General Election. Blogger just wanted to put that out there.
Ms. Misra writes, "These targeted raids come after repeated blows [citylab.com; April 25, 2017; date accessed Nov. 22, 2017] to the Trump administration's effort to punish [vox.com; July 26, 2017; date access Nov. 22, 2017] these cities by withholding federal grants, which a court recently ruled [cnn.com; Sept. 15, 2017; date accessed Nov. 22, 2017] is likely a constitutional overreach. Attorney General (for now) Jeff Sessions has long had these cities in his cross hairs, describing themselves as "hotbeds of violence and vice."
Los Angeles is a hotbed of violence and vice? Oh really? Los Angeles is hardly a literal "City of Angels" but Blogger thinks that the elfin AG has been watching one too many Humphrey Bogart movies.
Although the policies of sanctuary cities vary, they do have one common thread: limit the extent to which they allocate local resources are dedicated to federal enforcement. Specifically, "They do not block the federal government from enforcement; many do cooperate with ICE when it come to violent offenders and let the federal agency access law enforcement databases [npr.org; May 12, 2017; date accessed Nov. 22, 2017]."
Here is an interesting fact, the majority of cities that do not honor ICE's request to hold alleged undocumented immigrants do so because the courts (washingtonexaminer.com; July 24, 2017; date access Nov. 22 2017) have ruled detaining immigrant for federal law enforcement agents is really illegal. Ms. Misra reports, "Still, ICE briefly took to shaming these cities in public lists, until inaccuracies in their data came to the surface [nytimes.com; April 10, 2017; date accessed Nov. 22, 2017]."
When ICE announced its lates round of raids (ice.gov; Sept. 28, 2017; date accessed Nov. 22, 2017)-Operation 'Safe City'-the agency highlighted the most outrageous criminal cases among those arrested: battery, child and domestic abuse, gang affliation. Acting director Homan said,
ICE's goal is to build cooperative, respectful relationships with our law enforcement partners to help prevent dangerous criminal aliens from being releases back onto the streets.
However, upon closer inspection of the statistics from Operation "Safe City" weaken ICE's claim that the raids are focused on getting violent criminals off the streets. "Out of 498 people arrested, ICE data shows 181 people did not have any criminal convictions. among 317 that did, the highest number of people had driven under the influence (86). The next six largest categories were drug trafficking (14), assault (13), domestic violence (12), weapons offense (11), sex offense against child (10), and traffic office (10)."
Immigration hardliners interpret these numbers as a way to "restore law and order" (whitehouse.gov; Sept. 5, 2017; date accessed Nov. 22, 2017). However, pro-immigration advocates "point to the unfairness of crimes as small as shoplifting and as serious as rape having the same consequence." They argue, "...deportation should not be used as punishment at all, given that someone who's been convicted has already paid their dues to society."
Erika Almiron, the executive director of the immigrant rights organization Juntos, told CityLab,
You're creating a situation of double jeopardy...It's almost as if you don't think that the criminal justice system works.
Acting director Tom Homan also pointed out in his statement,
...on cooperation policies severely undermine that effort at the expense of public safety
Tanvi Misra points out that "...research has refuted this claim." One study concluded that cities that instituted sanctuary policies did not experience any statistically significant upswing in crime (washingtonpost.com; July 1, 2015; date accessed Nov. 22, 2017). A second study (citylab.com; Jan. 26, 2017; date accessed Nov. 22, 2017) compared sanctuary and related non-sanctuary cities demonstrated that "former actually tended to have lower crime and higher productivity, likely because of better police-community trust [Ibid]."
At the moment there is a bipartisan push toward "crimmigration" (citylab.com; Sept. 16, 2016; date accessed Nov. 22, 2017)-"the expansion in the number of offenses that can lead to deportation and higher prosecution of these offenses-" some of the cities are widening the scope of their sanctuary polices (citylab.com; March 15, 2017; date accessed Nov. 22, 2017). This would include criminal justice and law enforcement policies that might leave immigrants initially vulnerable to immigration enforcement.