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U.S. Attorneys Speak Out Against Sanctuary City Policies

“By ignoring federal immigration detainers and administrative warrants, and refusing to simply inform ICE officers when an unlawful alien who has committed a criminal act is due to be released to the community, the Sheriffs prioritize the protection of criminal aliens above the safety and protection of our communities.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a complaint Monday against the State of New Jersey, Governor Philip Murphy, and state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal challenging two aspects of New Jersey Attorney General Law Enforcement Directive 2018-6.

The complaint seeks to enjoin two aspects of the Directive and for the Court to declare these aspects of the Directive invalid.  Among other things, the Directive prohibits state officials from sharing information with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) related to the immigration status and release dates of individuals in their custody. The Directive also requires New Jersey law enforcement to “promptly notify a detained individual, in writing and in a language the individual can understand,” if ICE files an immigration detainer request for the individual.

As a result, a number of U.S. Attorneys are speaking out.

U.S. Attorney Don Cochran, Tennessee:

“I applaud the actions of Attorney General Barr and join with him in our quest to make America’s cities safer.

I am grateful that the State of Tennessee enacted a law last year, which prohibits local jurisdictions from enacting sanctuary city policies.  The misguided attempts and efforts of a few to provide sanctuary for illegal aliens would have placed our communities in grave danger and severely hampered the efforts of law enforcement to protect our communities from preventable criminal acts.”

U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray, North Carolina:

“The Sheriffs of Mecklenburg and Buncombe Counties have adopted ‘sanctuary’ policies that endanger our communities and shield criminals from immigration enforcement.

“In 2019, the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office alone failed to honor over 200 detainers issued by U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE), which means that more than a couple of hundred criminal aliens charged with criminal offenses were released back to the community. And those are the ones we can account for.

“By ignoring federal immigration detainers and administrative warrants, and refusing to simply inform ICE officers when an unlawful alien who has committed a criminal act is due to be released to the community, the Sheriffs of Mecklenburg and Buncombe Counties prioritize the protection of criminal aliens above the safety and protection of our communities.

U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer, California:

Brewer called for an end to “Sanctuary City” laws, saying the state statute prohibiting local law enforcement officials from sharing information with federal counterparts about dangerous criminals has made our communities less safe.

California Senate Bill 54 largely restricts local law enforcement’s ability to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. The law generally prohibits state and local authorities from inquiring about a person’s immigration status, detaining them based on a “detainer” request from immigration authorities, and providing information about an undocumented criminal’s release date or other personal information, such as address information that could be used to locate someone potentially subject to deportation or removal.  The law does provide for some exceptions for individuals convicted of certain crimes.

“The law’s prohibition against local law enforcement cooperating with their federal counterparts is inconsistent with their shared mission to protect the public above all else,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer.  “The law not only results in the release of individuals who may pose a threat to the safety of our communities, but it also increases the risk for law enforcement.”

Brewer continued: “Any time a detainer is not honored or the sharing of information about individuals in police custody is prohibited, our local law enforcement officers and our communities are put in danger unnecessarily. For instance, the prohibition on honoring detainers necessarily means that rather than taking custody of someone from a local jail, law enforcement must arrest that person in the community, which presents more risk to both our citizens and our officers.”

United States Attorney Joe Brown, Texas:

“Attorney General Barr is exactly right on this issue,” said Brown.  “Jurisdictions which refuse to turn over criminal aliens are putting politics above public safety and are putting the interests of criminal aliens before those of law-abiding citizens…Just last week, the United States Customs and Enforcement Agency (ICE) released figures confirming that more than 400 criminals from a single county in California re-offended over the last two years after being released because of California’s sanctuary city policies.  The offenses the offenders were charged with after being released included rape, assault with a deadly weapon, child sex offenses, domestic violence, and driving while intoxicated.”

U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams, Oregon:

“I share the Attorney General’s belief that sanctuary status declarations directly contravene federal immigration law and threaten public safety. In our country, the Congress makes immigration law and has directed federal authorities to enforce it. The notion that states and other jurisdictions can interfere in the sharing of critical public safety information involving criminal conduct ignores the supremacy of federal law. Each year, many preventable crimes are committed when jurisdictions refuse to cooperate with lawful federal immigration enforcement activities.

Oregon sheriffs and other law enforcement officers are caught in the middle of a highly politicized local and national debate over these policies. Many are left to choose whether to violate state or federal law. This is an untenable position for the men and women who work tirelessly to protect our communities. Since 2015, we have worked with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners here in Oregon to cure this impasse. Our work will continue tomorrow when we will again convene a large group of law enforcement partners to discuss these new lawsuits and other related issues.””

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