Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement on Monday that the Justice Department will bar all sanctuary cities from receiving any grants or other federal funds from the department should be welcome news to Americans—especially those whose families have been victimized by criminal illegal aliens released by sanctuary cities like San Francisco.
As Sessions pointed out, Kate Steinle, a resident of San Francisco, was shot and killed two years ago by an illegal alien as a direct result of San Francisco’s policy of refusing to honor federal detainer warrants.
The killer, Francisco Sanchez, had seven previous felony convictions and the city released him from custody despite the fact that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had filed a detainer with San Francisco asking that he be kept in custody until immigration agents could pick him up.
Sanchez even admitted to a television reporter that the only reason he came to San Francisco was because of the city’s sanctuary policy.
Sessions also mentioned another such incident that happened just within the last two weeks.
According to the attorney general, Ever Valles, another illegal alien, was charged with the murder and robbery of a man at a light rail station.
The only reason he was on the street was because the city of Denver refused to honor a detainer that ICE had filed with the city and released him from the Denver jail in December.
Valles is just one of many such criminal aliens who are being loosed on the American public by the reckless policies of sanctuary cities.
ICE recently released the first of its weekly reports on cities that have refused to honor ICE detainer warrants, as mandated by President Donald Trump’s executive order, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.”
The report details all of the local jurisdictions across the country from Florida to New York to Washington state that refused ICE detainers from Jan. 28 to Feb. 3 and released criminals from their jails rather than turn them over to the federal government for deportation.
The crimes committed by these illegal aliens, as outlined in a report covering just a single week, include: domestic violence, arson, aggravated assault, burglary, forgery, intimidation, possession of a dangerous weapon, intimidation, drug trafficking, sexual assault, homicide, and a host of other crimes. This is also no surprise.
As I have outlined before, prior reports by the Government Accountability Office that have reviewed the criminal histories of illegal aliens in federal, state, and local jails show a path of destruction and repeated criminal behavior by criminal aliens that is truly shocking.
There are literally millions of Americans like Steinle who have been victimized by crimes committed by illegal aliens that should not have happened and would not have happened if we actually enforced our immigration laws and if local jurisdictions cooperated with federal authorities instead of trying to obstruct them.
Sessions said that the American people “are justifiably angry” about these sanctuary policies that endanger them. They understand something that irresponsible local officials don’t seem to care about: “When cities and states refuse to help enforce immigration laws, our nation is less safe.”
The failure to deport criminal aliens like Valles puts “whole communities at risk—especially immigrant communities in the very sanctuary jurisdictions that seek to protect the perpetrators.”
The amount of federal grant money at stake is more than $4.1 billion, which the Justice Department distributes through its Office of Justice Programs.
Sessions said that all jurisdictions applying for such grants will have to certify that they are in full compliance with 8 U.S.C. Sec. 1373, which bans local and state jurisdictions from prohibiting their employees—including law enforcement—from exchanging information with the federal government over the citizenship status of any individual.
The American people certainly agree with what Trump and Sessions are doing. Sessions cited a poll in which 80 percent of Americans agreed that illegal aliens arrested by cities should be turned over to immigration authorities.
Sessions urged state and city officials to “consider carefully the harm they are doing to their citizens by refusing to enforce our immigration laws, and to rethink these policies.”
Hopefully, the added incentive of losing access to billions of federal dollars will help them “rethink” their rash sanctuary policies.
Hans von Spakovsky is an authority on a wide range of issues—including civil rights, civil justice, the First Amendment, immigration, the rule of law and government reform—as a senior legal fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and manager of the think tank’s Election Law Reform Initiative.
Editor's Note: This piece was originally published by The Daily Signal.