National security concerns prompt administration to escalate enforcement.
By John Friend
The Trump administration recently announced a “significant escalation” against local and state governments that harbor and abet illegal aliens and interfere with, impede, or obstruct federal immigration enforcement.
Attorney General William Barr spoke at the National Sheriffs’ Association Winter Legislative and Technology Conference in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 10, announcing initiatives and efforts the Trump administration would pursue against sanctuary cities and states that illegally hinder the “lawful functioning of our nation’s immigration system.”
He specifically criticized what he described as “so-called ‘progressive’ politicians” that are openly “jeopardizing the public’s safety by putting the interests of criminal aliens before those of law-abiding citizens,” referring to the countless radical left-wing politicians across the country who proudly champion open border and sanctuary policies in their local jurisdictions.
“They have put in place policies and laws designed to thwart the ability of federal officers to take custody of these criminals and thereby help them escape back into the community,” Barr powerfully stated. “They often proudly brand their jurisdictions as ‘sanctuaries,’ and package their obstructive policies in idealistic and misleading rhetoric about ‘protecting the immigrant community.’ ”
Barr went on to highlight two federal complaints recently filed against the state of New Jersey and King County, Wash. for policies adopted and implemented in those jurisdictions that openly infringe on federal immigration authorities’ ability to enforce immigration law and detain and deport illegal aliens.
Barr stated in his remarks:
Let us state the reality upfront and as clearly as possible. . . . When we are talking about sanctuary cities, we are talking about policies that are designed to allow criminal aliens to escape. These policies are not about people who came to our country illegally but have otherwise been peaceful and productive members of society. Their express purpose is to shelter aliens whom local law enforcement has already arrested for other crimes. This is neither lawful nor sensible.
A number of local and state governments across the nation have openly pursued policies that discourage and prevent law enforcement officials from collaborating with federal immigration officials in efforts to combat illegal immigration. Known as sanctuary cities or states, these political entities have brazenly interfered with and prevented federal officials from enforcing federal immigration law, often with disastrous and deadly consequences.
Barr noted that the federal complaint filed against the state of New Jersey sought relief “against its laws that forbid state and local law enforcement from sharing vital information about criminal aliens with DHS,” which has allowed illegal aliens arrested for other non-immigration-related crimes to escape deportation. A similar federal complaint against King County, Wash., one of the most populous counties in Washington state that includes the city of Seattle, seeks relief for a policy “that forbids DHS from deporting aliens from the United States using King County International Airport,” Barr explained.
Radical left-wing activist organizations, politicians, and judges have worked tirelessly to undermine and sabotage the Trump administration’s efforts to curb illegal immigration, enforce existing immigration laws, and deport illegal aliens since President Trump took office. Federal agencies and immigration officials have been met with resistance and obstruction for years by countless local and state entities who refuse to cooperate and openly undermine federal efforts to enforce immigration policy.
In addition to complaints against New Jersey and King County, the DOJ is “reviewing the practices, policies, and laws of other jurisdictions across the country,” Barr explained in his speech. “This includes assessing whether jurisdictions are complying with our criminal laws, in particular the criminal statute that prohibits the harboring or shielding of aliens in the United States.”
He also noted that the Trump administration is “meticulously reviewing the actions of certain district attorneys who have adopted policies of charging foreign nationals with lesser offenses for the express purpose of avoiding the federal immigration consequences of those nationals’ criminal conduct,” referring to prosecutors in states like New York and California that attempt to protect illegal aliens from deportation. “In pursuing their personal ambitions and misguided notions of equal justice, these district attorneys are systematically violating the rule of law and may even be unlawfully discriminating against American citizens.”
Incredibly, many local and state prosecutors, political officials, and law enforcement agencies actively protect and shield illegal aliens, with some officials even tipping off illegal aliens of federal efforts to detain and deport them, such as Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf who warned local residents prior to a federal immigration raid in northern California in 2018. Schaaf recently denounced “tactical border agents” and boasted that “Oakland will remain the most unapologetic sanctuary city in America,” demonstrating her hostility to federal immigration enforcement efforts.
Barr and the Trump administration are aiming to put an end to this destructive left-wing, open-borders madness.
“Today is a significant escalation in the federal government’s efforts to confront the resistance of ‘sanctuary cities,’ ” Barr concluded. “But by no means do the efforts outlined above signify the culmination of our fight to ensure the rule of law, to defend the Constitution, and to keep Americans safe. We will consider taking action against any jurisdiction that, or any politician who, unlawfully obstructs the federal enforcement of immigration law.
John Friend is a freelance writer based in California.