Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen confirmed Tuesday that her department has asked federal prosecutors to begin the process of lodging criminal charges against sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with federal deportation efforts.
“The Department of Justice is reviewing what avenues might be available,” Nielsen told California Sen. Kamala Harris during a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing.
Harris had asked Nielsen about comments made recently by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Tom Homan.
Nielsen defended her agency’s request to DOJ.
“The context of this is of course not only putting my ICE officers at risk but also finding an efficient and effective way to enforce our immigration laws,” she told Harris.
The Trump administration released a list of hard-line immigration principles late last year that the DACA deal in Congress would rely on.
The administration’s wish list includes the funding of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a crackdown on the influx of Central American minors and curbs on federal grants to “sanctuary cities.”
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has continually said that those policies put officers and local communities at more risk because they have to arrest illegal immigrants out in the community.
ICE Director Tom Homan stated last July that he wanted to see local officials charged as complicit in human smuggling if they shielded illegal immigrants through sanctuary policies.
A sanctuary city is a city that limits its cooperation with the national government effort to enforce immigration law.
Municipal policies include prohibiting police or city employees from questioning people about their immigration status and refusing requests by federal immigration authorities to detain people beyond their release date, if they were jailed for breaking local law.
San Francisco, for example, passed an ordinance in 1989 that prohibits city employees, funds or resources from assisting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in enforcing federal immigration law unless it’s required by state or federal law.
It also passed an ordinance that limits when law enforcement officials can give ICE notice that an immigrant has been released from a local jail and prohibits law enforcement officials from cooperating with detainer requests from ICE.
Berkeley, near San Francisco, is reportedly the original sanctuary city. It passed a resolution in 1971 that protected sailors who wanted to resist the Vietnam War.
As the new year kicked off, California officially became a “sanctuary state” – a designation that means the nation’s most populous state will limit just how much local law enforcement officials will cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
President Trump has promised to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities.
He signed an executive order nearly one year ago that moved to strip federal grant money from cities that “harbor” undocumented immigrations.
A federal judge permanently blocked the EO in December. He stated that the Trump administration lacks the authority to impose new conditions on spending that have already been approved by Congress. He also said Trump’s executive order violated the Fifth and Tenth Amendments.
The Trump Justice Department has taken direct aim at municipalities with sanctuary policies. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a staunch immigration hawk, has moved to block criminal justice grants from being given to sanctuary cities.
The number of immigrants who have attempted to enter the country illegally across the Mexican border has decreased sharply since Trump took office.
The number of people caught trying to sneak over the border from Mexico has fallen to the lowest level in 46 years, according to Department of Homeland Security. It is the first comprehensive look at how immigration enforcement is changing under the Trump administration.
During the government’s 2017 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, U.S. border agents made 310,531 arrests, a decline of 24 percent from the previous year and the fewest overall since 1971.
The numbers also show a sharp drop in apprehensions immediately after President Trump’s election win. They prove the deterrental effect of his rhetoric on would-be border crossers.
Then there is this:
A report released Last week by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security found that the majority of convictions for international terrorism brought by U.S. courts since 2001 have been against people born outside of the U.S.
The report found that out of 549 convictions for international terrorism-related charges since Sept. 11, 2001, 254 were not U.S. citizens, 148 received U.S. citizenship through naturalization and 147 were U.S. citizens by birth.
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