Opinion

Sanctuary Cities: The Line Splitting The Thin Blue Line

(Photo by Bryan Cox/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via Getty Images)

Donald J. Mihalek Vice President, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association Foundation

One of President Trump’s first actions was an executive order to defund sanctuary cities. These are jurisdictions that allow criminal illegal aliens to exist, without fear of being reported to federal authorities — namely Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), for deportation.   To be clear, criminals means criminals, those arrested, charged or convicted of drug offenses, rapes, murders and gang members.  Clearly individuals our nation and our communities can do without.

This executive order (EO) follows on myriad of attempts by the Congress to pass a law barring these sanctuary city policies, all of which have failed.

When the EO was signed, the reaction from state and local officials was immediate and predictable. They cited the impact on their law enforcement agencies and how beneficial it was to keep communication lines open with potential illegal aliens that were victims or witnesses of a crime.

In reality most of that is a red herring, no one is enforcing laws against victims or witnesses and the federal government actually has Visa programs for individuals that fit those categories. The blame really lies with these officials who insist on allowing illegal criminals to exist in their midst and forcing their law enforcement agencies to break a federal law.   Constituents and law enforcement agencies in these areas should be incensed.

To make matters worse, now those policies are punishing cops for cooperation. In Washington State, Armando Chavez Corona was a bad guy. Armando was convicted of a felony drug charge and because he entered the United States illegally, to distribute drugs, he was deported from the United States — not once but four times between 1996 and 2000.

Fast forward to today, a Washington State Trooper winds up on an accident scene. One of the involved parties is Armando — even though he shouldn’t be here.

The Trooper, doing his job, runs Armando’s name and receives back a criminal notification (what cops get when the run someone through the National Crime Information Center) that Armando was deported four times as a felon and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is looking for him.

So what does a good cop do, he calls ICE to let them know he had Armando at the accident scene. ICE promptly arrives and takes Armando into custody. One would think this is a great display of police work and federal/state law enforcement cooperation — well everyone except Washington States Governor.

Instead of commending  the Trooper, his supervisors inform him that his actions were under “review” (code word in law enforcement for their looking to discipline you) for failure to follow official policy of their “sanctuary state” to not call ICE when a criminal illegal alien comes across police radar. The chilling message to the Trooper and other cops — don’t call the Feds.

This wedge that State and Local officials are trying to drive between federal, state and local enforcement agencies is as wrong as “sanctuary cities” themselves. Curiously, a policy that even former President Obama’s Administration (dubbed the “Deporter-in-Chief” by some) rejected as reckless and dangerous.

In cities like Los Angeles, where the Los Angeles Police Department reported a three-year high of 290 homicides, robberies up by 13%, aggravated assaults were up by 10% and overall, violent crime up by 10% over last year and 38% over two years ago — has gone so far as to tell the Feds to stop using the word “police” when they do their job.

Why? Because they feel ICE Agents using the word “police” ‎ could “breed mistrust between the immigrant community and law enforcement, and subsequently could create a “shadow population” susceptible to extortion or other crime.‎”

Isn’t one of the problems with our illegal alien population just that — a group of people living outside the law (a shadow population) who are often subject to extortion and other crimes? How does telling ICE to stop using the internationally recognized officer safety language of POLICE prevent them from being victims of crime? It’s actually the inverse, illegal aliens are most often victimized by — ready — other criminal illegal aliens who see their own population as ripe targets because they think they can’t or won’t report a crime.

‎Unfortunately, as LA tries to stop the Feds from doing their job they essentially allow crime to flourish against the population they say they are trying to protect — which probably bears out in the crime statistics.

LA and Washington State are not alone with this crime enhancement anti-law enforcement cooperation policy. Philadelphia, Washington D.C., New York and many others force their local law enforcement officers to make a choice —  call ICE about an illegal criminal and face potential punishment or violate the oath they took to serve and protect and allow these criminals to continue living among their citizens.

These decisions that local law enforcement are now forced to make due to “sanctuary city” polices has a real impact on the communities safety and law enforcement cooperation.

In Travis County, Texas, 142 criminal illegal aliens were released despite ICE detainers being placed against all of them. Their crimes ranged from sexual assault against children to kidnapping, rape and robbery. ICE officials now have to expend manpower to track down another 142 criminals on the streets of Texas.

This is a shameful and untenable position these “sanctuary city” polices have placed themselves and their departments in. The basic tenet of all law enforcement is to serve and protect; clearly these sanctuary city policies only sever law enforcement cooperation and provide safe havens for criminals.