Attorney General Jeff Sessions called out Baltimore for its sanctuary city policy Tuesday, claiming city leaders are only helping to facilitate criminal activity by dangerous gangs like MS-13.
The comments came as Sessions and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen appeared in Baltimore to discuss recent efforts to combat MS-13, an international criminal organization with more than 10,000 members across the U.S. Sessions was asked whether he views Baltimore as a sanctuary city during a press conference following his speech.
“We know MS-13 in the region here is responsible for a quite a number of the most brutal murders,” Sessions told reporters. “I see no justification whatsoever for any city, any jurisdiction, any state, to take the view that someone who enters the country illegally and then commits some other crime should be protected from federal law to be deported. I feel very strongly about that.”
Baltimore is one of dozens of jurisdictions across the country that prevents local police from working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to deport any illegal immigrants they arrest. Sessions argues these policies only release dangerous illegal immigrants back onto the streets, rather than allowing ICE agents to exercise their lawful duty to deport them.
Sessions also cited Baltimore’s skyrocketing murder rate, which passed 2016’s count of 318 before the end of November. The city’s homicides spiked in 2015 during riots protesting the death of Freddie Gray. 2015 saw 344 homicides, a number second only to 1993, when the city had 100,000 more residents than it does today.
“We know MS-13 in the region here is responsible for a quite a number of the most brutal murders,” Sessions said. “I don’t know that the city itself has a high MS-13 murder rate … but this region — Northern Virginia, Islip, New York, Houston, Los Angeles — are the centerpieces of the most MS-13 violence.”
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