‘Protecting Criminals Is Lawlessness’: Former ICE Chief Blasts Sanctuary Cities

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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Former ICE chief Ron Vitiello ripped into sanctuary cities and jurisdictions during a media appearance Friday, arguing that cooperation with federal immigration authorities is safer for communities.

“Nobody is safer when a city protects somebody who is a criminal. These people came into the country. There here illegally, and they go on to commit another crime,” Vitiello, the former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said Friday on Fox News.

“This just happened in the last two months in Montgomery County. Right after the county executive announced that they were going to be a sanctuary, they had nine people accused of sexual assault and rape crimes that were also in the country illegally,”
he added. “Protecting criminals is lawlessness.”

Vitiello was reacting to a White House press conference led by his successor, current acting ICE Director Matthew Albence, that took place on Thursday. The briefing focused on the negative impacts sanctuary laws have on communities, and encouraged local law enforcement departments to cooperate with ICE to help apprehend criminal illegal aliens.

Homeland Security Dep't Holds Press Conf. On Border Security And Nat'l Security

WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 5: Ronald D. Vitiello, Acting Deputy Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), December 5, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The press conference came as a growing number of sanctuary jurisdictions are cropping up across the country — including statewide laws signed by Democratic governors. A significant number of major U.S. cities have passed some sort of directive that prohibits police from working with federal immigration authorities.

Namely, police operating within sanctuary jurisdictions are barred from honoring detainer requests for illegal aliens in their custody. This can result in the release of illegal aliens who make bail and are able to leave before ICE is able to make an apprehension.

The agency had an extremely productive few days, making nearly 1,300 arrests this week alone, according to its briefing. ICE noted that it could have made an additional 200 arrests if their detainer requests were not ignored by local detention centers.

“Those officers, those jurisdictions, the mayors, the county executives — they took an oath to the constitution. Allowing criminals to go free when they’re in the country illegally and ICE has filed a detainer on them — that’s lawlessness. It’s a danger and it puts those communities at risk,” Vitiello said Friday. (RELATED: Acting ICE Director Albence: Nothing ‘Encapsulates’ Sanctuary Issue More Than Montgomery County)

Vitiello also shot down the idea that ICE enforcement makes immigrant communities less inclined to reach out to law enforcement.

“People want the law enforced,” he said. “These offenses occur in the immigrant community. They’re more than happy to cooperate with the police to get criminals off the street.”


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