Sanctuary Cities: No Peace And No Justice

Michael Cutler Former INS Special Agent
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Donald Trump has ignited a firestorm with his statements about the failure of the United States to secure the Southwest border and prevent criminal aliens from Mexico entering the United States and committing violent crimes. In point of fact, the emphasis on the U.S./Mexican border while understandable, ignores the fact that the United States has 50 “border states.” Any state with an international airport has access to America’s tens of thousands of miles of meandering coastline, or lies along the northern as well as the southern border are all “border states.”

It is also wrong to focus on citizens of Mexico and Latin America and ignore the fact that the United States has a problem with criminal aliens from just about every country on the planet plying their trades in towns and cities from coast to coast and border to border. Our immigration laws have nothing to do with race, religion or ethnicity. In point of fact, Title 8, United States Code, Section 1182 enumerates the categories of aliens who are to be excluded. Among these classes are aliens who suffer from dangerous communicable diseases or extreme mental illness. Additionally convicted felons, human rights violators, war criminals, terrorists and spies are to be excluded as well as aliens who would seek unlawful employment, thus displacing American workers or driving down the wages of American workers who are similarly employed and aliens who would become public charges.

The refusal of local law enforcement in San Francisco to honor the detainer lodged by ICE to notify their agents if an when Sanchez was released is outrageous. An argument could be made that sanctuary cities are actually guilty of committing a felony under the provisions of, Title 8, U.S.C. § 1324, which deems it is a felony to aid, abet, encourage or induce aliens to enter our country illegally or to conceal, harbor or shield aliens who are illegally present in the United States. That same section of law deems any concerted effort to commit those crimes by working in concert with others to be guilty of conspiracy to violate the immigration laws. Officials are not above the law — no matter what their sense of self-importance may cause them to believe.

At minimum, cities and states that refuse to work cooperatively with ICE should lose all of their federal funding. Period.

However, it is more than likely that this is not the first time that San Francisco has refused to cooperate with ICE. The obvious question that has gone begging in all of the discussion about immigration and “sanctuary cities” — especially in the case of the murder of Kathryn Steinle, is why on earth did ICE turn her accused murderer over to San Francisco in the first place? Did anyone at ICE really expect that they would be contacted when Sanchez was to be released? As an INS agent, when I wanted to make certain that I would not lose track of a dangerous alien who was facing criminal charges by local or state law enforcement, I would discuss the case with the prosecutors to seek to have minor criminal charges disposed of by a process known as ACD (Adjourned Contemplating Dismissal). This way we could dispose of the local minor charges and I would retain physical custody of the alien to make certain that he/she did not slip through any cracks in the system.

Let’s remember that ICE has released tens of thousands of criminal aliens within the past few years. Therefore I am of the belief that ICE management seeks any possible excuse to see illegal aliens — even those who have serious criminal histories, released from custody. I am convinced that while certainly no one involved in this case would want to see anyone killed by this criminal alien, by turning him over to San Francisco they would have plausible deniability and point the finger of blame at local law enforcement.

Advocates for sanctuary cities are quick to invoke the idea of compassion. It is time that concerns about compassion be focused on the plight of American citizens and lawful immigrants, rather than those aliens who violate our laws and our borders.

Recently Hillary Clinton disingenuously complained about those who don’t want to give “immigrants a pathway to citizenship.” This is deceptive and wrong beyond words. The United States naturalizes more than a half-million new citizens every year. In order to be eligible to naturalize an alien must be a lawful immigrant and meet certain requirements concerning physical presence in the United States and issues concerning good moral character. Providing an illegal alien with lawful status and citizenship is the equivalent of providing a burglar with the key to the front door of the home he broke into.

To provide a bit more clarity, the difference between an immigrant and an illegal alien is comparable to the difference between a houseguest and a burglar.

On July 7, 2015 I was interviewed on the Newsmax TV program, “The Hard Line,” hosted by Ed Berliner. The topic of of the discussion was the statements of Donald Trump about the issue of criminal aliens entering the United States from Mexico and killing, raping and selling narcotics in the United States. The impact of sanctuary cities had suddenly taken on new urgency in the wake of the senseless murder of a young woman, Kathryn Steinle, who was allegedly shot to death by an illegal alien from Mexico, Francisco Sanchez who had been previously deported five times and had been convicted of seven felonies.

Newsmax published an article about my interview and provided a link to a video of the segment in which I appeared with the title, “Ex-INS Agent Cutler: Trump’s Comments ‘a Long Time Coming.’

The title of that article could not have been more accurate in expressing my perspectives on the issue of sanctuary cities and my rage that this issue has been undermining national security and public safety for far too many years. In point of fact, more than a quarter century ago, on March 22, 1990 the New York Times published a report, “Man Is Found Not Guilty In Death of Police Officer.” This report began with these paragraphs:

A 26-year-old former convict who was charged with killing a police officer on a Brooklyn street last year was acquitted yesterday of murder.

The suspect, Renaldo Rayside, an illegal alien from Panama, had been charged with first- and second-degree murder for the March 3, 1989, slaying of Officer Robert E. Machate, who was working on a robbery detail in the Flatbush section when he was fatally shot.

The report ended with these paragraphs:

Officer Machate was a popular, highly-decorated member of the Brooklyn South Task Force Anti-Crime Unit. He had been an officer for two and a half years. His widow, Grace Ann, who was in the courtroom yesterday when the verdict was announced, was six-months pregnant with their first child when the officer was slain. She gave birth last June to a girl, Nicole.

Mr. Rayside, who the police say is in the country illegally from Panama, has a criminal record that dates from at least 1982, police records show. He was deported to Panama in 1986, but illegally re-entered the country. His police record showed that he was charged at least twice with resisting arrest before the shooting of Officer Machate.

There are three important facts that were not included in the report. I had physically put Rayside on the airliner to execute the Warrant of Deportation. When Rayside was arrested by the NYPD on those two occasions after his deportation, as noted in the report, Giuliani’s sanctuary policies prevented the NYPD from notifying INS that he was in custody. His presence in the U.S. constituted a felony. In those days he would have been arrested by the INS.  I testified at that heart-breaking trial.

Thirteen years later, on February 27, 2003 I testified before the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims on the issue, “New York City’s ‘Sanctuary Policy and the Effect of Such Policies on Public Safety, Law Enforcement and Immigration.”

That hearing was conducted more than a dozen years ago and was predicated on the attack of a young woman in New York who was assaulted by five aliens who dragged her into a desolate area and, but for the appearance of members of the NYPD at the scene of the assault who rescued her, her abduction and assault might well have ended with her death. Certainly the debate on sanctuary cities has been a very long time coming.

Here is how John Hostetler, then-chairman of the subcommittee began his opening statement:

Mr. HOSTETTLER: The Subcommittee will now come to order.

On December 19, 2002, a 42-year-old mother of two was abducted and forced by her assailants into a hideout near some railroad tracks in Queens, New York. She was brutally assaulted before being rescued by a New York Police Department canine unit.

The NYPD arrested five aliens in connection with that assault. According to records that the Judiciary Committee has received from the INS, four of those aliens entered the United States illegally. Three of those four had extensive arrest histories in New York City. The fifth alien, a lawful permanent resident, also had a criminal history prior to the December 19, 2002, attack.

Despite the criminal histories of the four aliens, however, it does not appear from the records that the Committee has received that the NYPD told the INS about these aliens until after the December 19 attack.
These heinous crimes prompted extensive public discussion of whether New York City police were barred from disclosing immigration information to the INS, a policy that may have prevented the removal of these aliens prior to the December 19 attack.

Some suggested that the only reason that the three illegal aliens were in the United States, despite their extensive arrest histories, was because the NYPD officers who arrested these aliens previously were barred by a so-called ”sanctuary” policy from contacting the INS. That policy, critics claimed, prevented NYPD officers from contacting the INS when they arrested an illegal alien.

We will examine New York City’s policy on the NYPD’s disclosure of immigration information to the INS. New York’s Executive Order, or E.O. 124, barred line officers from communicating directly with the INS about criminal aliens. That executive order was issued by Mayor Ed Koch in 1989 and reissued by Mayors Dinkins and Giuliani.

Two Federal provisions, both of which were passed in 1996, preempted this executive order. In particular, section 642 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act bars States and localities from prohibiting their officers from sending immigration information to the INS. New York City challenged that provision in Federal court and lost.

Twelve years after that hearing, still more cities have become so-called “sanctuaries” for aliens who have no right to be in the United States, notwithstanding federal provisions enacted back in 1996 to end sanctuary policies.

There will never be a true accounting as to the total number of people who have been assaulted, robbed, raped, and injured by drunk illegal alien drivers who have no licenses. All of those who managed to survive have lost their peace of mind. Other victims have paid the ultimate price for the duplicitous actions of political “leaders” from both parties, who have turned their cities and, in some cases, their states into sanctuaries — not for law abiding citizens or foreign visitors and lawful immigrants, but for aliens whose very presence in the United States represents a violation of some of our most fundamental laws.

It is time that our “leaders” look at the victims of the failures of the immigration system as being more than unavoidable collateral damage for the politicians who put their greed and political careers ahead of America and Americans.

Aliens who run our borders are trespassing and we have no way of knowing why they actually evaded the inspections process conducted at ports of entry by CBP (Customs and Border Protection) inspectors. We may find it all but impossible to know their true identities and therefore knowing if they are fugitives from justice in another country, perhaps wanted for crimes of extreme violence.  We don’t know if they are involved with criminal or terrorists organizations.

Consider this excerpt from Chapter 12 of the 9/11 Commission Report:

Looking back, we can also see that the routine operations of our immigration laws-that is, aspects of those laws not specifically aimed at protecting against terrorism-inevitably shaped al Qaeda’s planning and opportunities. Because they were deemed not to be bona fide tourists or students as they claimed, five conspirators that we know of tried to get visas and failed, and one was denied entry by an inspector. We also found that had the immigration system set a higher bar for determining whether individuals are who or what they claim to be-and ensuring routine consequences for violations-it could potentially have excluded, removed, or come into further contact with several hijackers who did not appear to meet the terms for admitting short-term visitors.

Our investigation showed that two systemic weaknesses came together in our border system’s inability to contribute to an effective defense against the 9/11 attacks: a lack of well-developed counterterrorism measures as a part of border security and an immigration system not able to deliver on its basic commitments, much less support counterterrorism. These weaknesses have been reduced but are far from being overcome.

In point of fact, sanctuary cities and states can provide safe havens for “terror sleepers.” I focused on this threat in my January 23, 2015 FrontPage Magazine article,  “Sleeper Cells: The Immigration Component of the Threat.

News reports have largely claimed that Republicans are opposed to sanctuary cities while Democrats tend to support them. The reports, as usual, are highly inaccurate. We have had no shortage of Republicans as well as Democrats who have enforced sanctuary policies. Rudy Giuliani was one of those Republicans as was his successor, Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

On September 27, 2012 the New York Post published an article about New York City’s previous mayor, “Bloomberg blasts Bronx DA for not prosecuting trespassing arrests” which included this exceprt:

“Mayor Bloomberg blasted the Bronx DA’s controversial policy of not prosecuting some trespassing arrests in public housing — saying that the move will bring the city back to its bad old days of crime and disorder.”

However, Bloomberg maintained New York’s “sanctuary policies” that prohibited the NYPD from notifying the federal government when illegal aliens were encountered by law enforcement authorities during the course of routine police activities.

In the wake of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, Rudy Giuliani the mayor of NYC on that horrific day, was given the sobriquet “America’s Mayor.” He has a tough-guy reputation, having been the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York who successfully prosecuted legendary mobster John Gotti who was sentenced to life in prison for his mob-related crimes.

Giuliani was a proponent of the “broken windows” law enforcement strategy that says that going after low-level crimes discourages and deters more serious crimes.

Here is a bit of “inside information” worth considering. In the 1980’s I approached then-New York Senator Al D’Amato to convince him to create what would become known as the “Aggravated Felon” statute concerning aliens who have convictions for serious crimes and are deported and then unlawfully reenter the United States.

At the time our immigration laws made no distinction about the criminal history, or lack thereof of aliens who were deported from the United States. Back then, reentering illegally after deportation would only expose aliens irrespective of criminal histories to a maximum of two years in prison. I was determined to convince the senator that aliens who have serious convictions should face up to 20 years in prison and that they should also be subjected to a significant minimum mandatory sentence at the bottom end of the scale.

I unofficially worked with D’Amato’s staff for about a year to get this bill enacted — and indeed it ultimately was. During a meeting in which I joined several of my colleagues at the his office, D’Amato called Giuliani on the phone in his conference room in Manhattan and put the call onto the speaker phone so that we could all speak with Giuliani who was, at that time, the U.S. Attorney for the SDNY. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the proposed legislation. In fact when I spoke directly with him during that call, he was actually surprised and dismayed that there was, at that time, no way to impose more than a two year sentence for alien felons who were deported and returned without authorization.

After the Aggravated Felony Reentry Law was enacted, I had the satisfaction of making the first arrest in the New York District Office of the INS under that law when I arrested an alien from the Dominican Republic who was ending his prison sentence in an Upstate New York prison for his drug convictions. He thought I would simply be taking him to the airport for a flight home to the Dominican Republic. I attended his sentencing and witnessed the federal judge sentence him to serve approximately five years in a federal prison.

This is the link to the section of law that deals with the crime he committed, the illegal re-entry of a criminal alien who had been previously deported: 8 U.S.C. § 1326 — Reentry After Deportation (Removal). While this section of law runs roughly a full page, here is the relevant and brief paragraph about the penalty for this federal felony:

The basic statutory maximum penalty for reentry after deportation is a fine under title 18, imprisonment for not more than 2 years, or both. However, with regard to an alien whose “removal” was subsequent to a conviction for commission of three or more misdemeanors involving drugs, crimes against the person, or both, or a felony (other than an aggravated felony), the statutory maximum term of imprisonment is 10 years. Moreover, if deportation was subsequent to conviction for an aggravated felony, the statutory maximum term of imprisonment is 20 years.

Today politicians and television pundits focused on ratings are lining up to create yet another law that would, in essence parallel the law that was enacted nearly 30 years ago. This may create the illusion of protecting America and Americans but, at the end of the day, this will accomplish nothing.

We do not need any more laws. We need the means, resources and political will to enforce the laws that are already on the books. This is not likely to happen with the current crop of supposed political “representatives” in Washington and in city halls and state capitols around the United States.

We have about 7,000 ICE agents for the entire United States of America, and more than half of them are assigned to conduct investigations that have nothing to do with immigration but with customs laws. They are far more concerned with uncovering those who produce counterfeit designer clothing than counterfeit identity documents.

The NYPD has more than 35,000 police officers. ICE needs to have a similar number of agents and many more Immigration Judges and other supporting personnel.

Most of all we need true leaders who are less concerned with headlines and “photo-ops” and more concerned with the lives of Americans and achieving real-world results.

American lives matter!