(CNSNews.com) – Larimer County, Colorado Sheriff Justin Smith, who calls President Obama’s executive amnesty “a slow way of erasing the border,” took to Facebook to criticize what he called a “veiled threat” by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson.
In a Feb. 3 DHS press release, Johnson warned of “consequences” to local public safety agencies if Congress does not pass a bill “unburdened by politically charged amendments that attempt to defund our executive actions on immigration reform.”
Smith told CNSNews.com that he was “offended” by the press release, which was forwarded to him and other sheriffs and chiefs of police.
Current funding for the department expires on February 27. On Tuesday, Senate Democrats again blocked a House appropriations bill that strips funding for executive amnesty.
“I received a very interesting veiled threat letter from Jeh Johnson, the Secretary of Homeland Security addressed to all police chiefs and sheriffs around the country,” Smith said in a February 3 Facebook post.
“His letter made it clear that if Congress didn't send President Obama the DHS funding bill that he wanted (rubberstamping the president's executive amnesty), local and state public safety agencies would not receive federal grants they were counting on because the president would veto the DHS funding bill.
“Let me get this straight - the president believes he has the authority to nullify federal laws that don't serve his personal agenda, but if Congress dares to exercise it's responsibility of controlling the purse strings, he will willingly hold public safety grants hostage just to get his way?
“Mr. President, you don't have to love the Congress we elected, but you do have to respect their role as established under the Constitution -and Mr. Johnson, please show some integrity and stop with the threats. Sheriffs don't take kindly to them.”
“I was very offended by the tactics, the veiled threat, the attempt to bully us,” Smith told CNSNews.com. “It’s a political game that is below the dignity of a Cabinet secretary. You’d be a fool not to recognize that what he’s saying is that we need to put pressure on our senators because the president will veto the bill if he doesn’t get his way.”
Smith, who is serving his second term as sheriff, said none of the projects Johnson threatened are in Larimer County, although the press release did mention funding for upgraded oxygen masks and tanks for firefighters in nearby Denver.
“I have actually not gotten into federal grants as much as some local law enforcement agencies,” Smith told CNSNews.com. “I appreciate that there are some appropriate times when the federal nexus is necessary, such as in the border counties. But all too often, they sell their souls to the federal government.”
CNSNews.com asked Smith whether his county is affected by illegal immigration.
“I don’t know a county in the U.S. that isn’t,” he replied. “We certainly have issues here on a regular basis: horrible motor vehicle crashes and violent crimes committed by illegal immigrants. The big concern I have with executive amnesty is that it is a very complex chess game that dismantles the Secure Communities program.”
The Secure Communities program “prioritizes the removal of criminal aliens…who pose a threat to public safety and repeat immigration violators,” according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“Under Secure Communities, when we have somebody in the jail, we put them in the system to see whether they appear to be here illegally, match them up with the immigration folks, and hold them on a detainer if they are,” Smith explained.
“But the new Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) won’t let us know who is and who isn’t in the country illegally. It’s an attempt to hide this information from the local community. It’s a slow way of erasing the border. It makes every county in America a border county.”
The sheriff said that PEP has a three-tier evaluation system to determine whether a person should be deported. “Maybe Osama bin Laden would have a chance of being deported under Tier 1, but everybody else? Heck no,” he pointed out.
Smith said that he and many of his fellow sheriffs are “done with being pawns. We are not tools of the federal government. We banded together two years ago when the federal government tried to push gun control regulations, which we felt were unconstitutional,” he told CNSNews.com.
“We will not sit quietly when the federal government oversteps its bounds,” he added. “Sheriffs in Colorado, and more and more across the country, are becoming the front lines on these issues. Over the past four or five years, we’ve realized that we have just as much responsibility to protect the rule of law and the Constitution as we do to enforce the laws already there.
“The people’s rights and due process are also our responsibility, and we’re speaking out louder and louder about that.”