ICE Director: Sanctuary Cities Don’t Protect Immigrant Communities - ‘They Put Them in Harm’s Way’

Melanie Arter | March 21, 2018 | 5:15pm EDT
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President Donald Trump and acting ICE Director Tom Homan (Screenshot)

( - Acting ICE Director Tom Homan said Tuesday that sanctuary city policies are being used by criminal organizations in Mexico and Central America as a selling tactic for smuggling illegals and by employers who exploit illegal workers with low wages and poor working conditions.

“These policies are being used by criminal organizations in Mexico and Central America. It's a selling tactic for them to get the smuggled aliens to a sanctuary jurisdiction, where even local law enforcement won't cooperate with ICE, thereby bankrolling the very criminal organizations that smuggle these aliens, or bankrolling the very criminal organizations that have killed Border Patrol agents and special agents,” Homan said during a White House law enforcement roundtable discussion on sanctuary cities.

“Further, sanctuary laws help employers to exploit illicit -- illegal workers with low wages and poor working conditions. I want to be clear on sanctuary policies. ICE isn't asking local law enforcement to be ICE officers. We don't want them out making vehicle stops, asking immigration questions,” he said.

“What we want them to do is give federal law enforcement officers unfettered access to a county jail to take custody of somebody that's in the country illegally and yet commit another crime against a citizen of this country, Homan said. “It's safer for the officers. It's safer for the community.

“These people go out and reoffend in the very communities they live, which is immigrant communities. Sanctuary cities do not protect the immigrant community. They put them in harm’s way,” he said.

Homan dispelled the notion that ICE participates in raids or sweeps.

“Everybody we arrest is a targeted enforcement operation. We know exactly who we're going to arrest and exactly where we're going to find them, most of the time,” he said.

“In fiscal year 2017, for example, for those people that say we don't prioritize re-arrest, 81 percent of all aliens we arrested in California last year were convicted criminals. We also prioritize fugitives and aliens who have illegally re-entered the United States, which is a felony by the mere fact of reentering after being formally removed,” Homan said.

“But let me be clear: As I've said many times, it's a crime to enter this state -- enter the United States illegally. It's under the Title 8 code, and ICE officers shouldn't be condemned because they're upholding their sworn oath and enforcing the laws that Congress enacted,” he said.

“We are told, on one hand, to focus our efforts on criminals, but those same folks that want us to focus on criminals don't let us in the county jail.  It just defies logic: Concentrate on criminals, but don't come into our county jail,” Homan said.

As a result, he said, officers were forced to make arrests out in the community, which was a public safety threat and “a significant danger” to ICE agents and other law enforcement officers, because the criminal is on his own turf with access to weapons.

“Many of our local law enforcement officers -- our partners in California -- some at this table, also oppose the dangerous policies of sanctuary -- policies imposed by Sacramento, including the California State Sheriff's Association. They have disagreed with the governor. They have come out with a press statement saying they're not allowed to communicate with ICE the way they want to, and they have to release public safety threats out into the public, which they don’t want to do,” he said.

Homan read a statement from the California State Sheriff’s Association on passage of SB-54 - California’s sanctuary city policy: “This legislation contains significant liabilities that restrict communications with federal law enforcement about the release of wanted, undocumented criminals from our jails, including known gang members, repeat drunk drivers, persons who assault peace officers, serial thieves, and abusers and other serious offenders."

Homan said half of criminal immigrants who are arrested and released will reoffend. As an example, he talked about a Mexican national arrested in Merced County, Calif., who was arrested “for robbery and multiple weapons violations, including carrying a concealed weapon, and willful discharge of a firearm and gross negligence.”

“This alien was previously released from local custody back into the community in November 2017, following his arrest for conspiracy to commit crime and vandalism. Despite the fact we issued a detainer, he was released. He is one of the many public safety threats we targeted during the most recent operation in Northern California that we weren't able to locate,” he said.

“Since our operation in San Francisco and Oakland, three of the people we couldn't locate have since reoffended. The one person I just talked about was just arrested for robbery and multiple weapons violations,” Homan said. “Another person we just arrested that we failed to locate in the open area was just arrested for his third DUI. Third DUI.  

“So if he's getting arrested three times, how many times has he committed this crime? That is a public safety threat. He also has been convicted for false imprisonment and battery of spouse, but we couldn't locate him during this latest operation. Again, released from a jail. And there's a third targeted criminal that we attempted to arrest in San Francisco area, and he just got re-arrested for corporal injury of a spouse,” he said.

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