DIGENOVA: Sanctuary Madness Stops Now

Joe DiGenova Former US Attorney
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The Trump administration is not going to let Democrat officials get away with putting American citizens in danger by sheltering criminal illegal aliens from federal law enforcement.

In his State of the Union address, President Trump highlighted several tragic stories of Americans killed, raped and maimed by criminal illegal aliens who were allowed to roam free because “sanctuary” cities and states refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

The president called on Congress to pass federal legislation allowing these victims and their families to sue the jurisdictions that enabled their suffering, but his administration isn’t simply waiting for Congress to take action against sanctuary policies. Attorney General Bill Barr’s Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under acting Secretary Chad Wolf are engaged in parallel efforts to crack down on these irresponsible policies now.

The vast majority of Americans — upwards of 80 percent — oppose the so-called “sanctuary” movement. Nevertheless, in their collective fit of spiteful rage over Donald Trump being elected president, Democrats around the country have embraced these indefensible policies as a means of making a political statement.

Until fairly recently, few if any local or state politicians would actually consider prohibiting their police officers from cooperating with federal agents, sharing information when they arrest people who are in the country illegally, and keeping known illegal alien criminals in custody until they can be deported. Today, however, that’s the law of the land in California, New York, Illinois, and seven other states — along with dozens of cities and counties. But in a few instances, sanctuary politicians have decided to go even further to protect illegal aliens.

In California, a law would prohibit the DHS from operating certain detention facilities in the state. In Washington State’s King County, a local politician believes he can prohibit ICE from using the federally licensed SeaTac International Airport. And in New Jersey, a 2018 directive requires state authorities not only to conceal the immigration status of prisoners and detainees from the federal government, but to actually inform these criminals if immigration agents are looking for them.

Each of these policies flies in the face of the Constitution and federal law. Thanks to Attorney General Barr’s refusal to look the other way, each is going to be challenged in court.

Separately, New York State just joined 13 other states and the District of Columbia in granting driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. New York went even further than the other states, prohibiting DMV workers from sharing information with federal law enforcement about foreigners who obtain state-issued identification.

In response, DHS Secretary Wolf made the decision to remove New York from DHS’s Trusted Travelers Programs, explaining that the lack of cooperation from state authorities undermines the federal government’s ability to keep America safe. From now on, New York IDs won’t be valid for applications for Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, and FAST, which allow expedited processing for trusted international travelers.

Simply put, the Trump administration is not going to let New York put American citizens in danger — especially not for the sake of making a partisan political point.

These measures are harsh but necessary. If the federal government doesn’t impose actual consequences for cities and states that adopt sanctuary policies, liberal lawmakers are going to continue to grow ever bolder in their attempts to prevent the enforcement of federal immigration law.

The fact is, we all pay the price for the lawlessness that sanctuary jurisdictions enable. When thousands of illegal alien criminals — many of them repeat offenders — are released into the community instead of being deported, no American citizen is truly safe.

Playtime is over. Elected officials who sacrifice our safety, security, and the rule of law so they can grandstand about how aggressively they’re “resisting” President Trump will face consequences for their reckless endangerment of American citizens.

Joseph diGenova was US Attorney for the District of Columbia and an Independent Counsel. He is the founding partner of diGenova & Toensing, LLP.