(CNSNews.com) - U.S. Attorney for North Carolina Andrew Murray told Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Tuesday that “there’s no doubt” that a proposal to allow victims of violent crimes to be able to sue sanctuary cities would be “ deterrent.”
During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the impact of sanctuary jurisdictions on public safety and victims, Graham asked Murray and Timothy Robbins, acting executive associate director for enforcement removal operations for ICE, about proposed legislation introduced by Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and co-sponsored by Graham and Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
The Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act, introduced in July, seeks to “hold sanctuary jurisdictions accountable for failing to comply with lawful detainer and release notification requests made by federal authorities and jeopardizing public safety.”
GRAHAM: Mr. Robbins and Mr. Murray, do you agree that what Senator Tillis is trying to accomplish is to put sanctuary cities, communities, counties, whatever entity we’re talking about on notice that in the future if you knowingly let a violent criminal go, you refuse to work with federal authorities to detain this violent criminal, you could be sued if they hurt somebody? Do you agree that’s what we’re trying to accomplish?
MURRAY: Senator Graham, first of all, I appreciate your leadership and Senator Tillis’. I thank you for that. The department is reviewing the legislation that has been entered by Senator Tillis. I would say that anything that helps protect the community --
GRAHAM: But do you believe it would be helpful to let sanctuary cities know that if you willingly ignore a request from the federal government regarding detaining a violent offender and that person is released because your failure to cooperate and hurts one of fellow citizens, you could be sued, that would be a deterrent.
MURRAY: There’s no doubt that would be a deterrent, senator.
GRAHAM: Do you agree with that, Mr. Robbins?
ROBBINS: Chairman Graham, I think when it comes to any legislation or any encouragement to cooperate with ICE to allow-- or to stop criminals from walking out the front doors back into our community, would be encouraged. I think our law enforcement partners, our sheriffs, many of them want to work with iCE but are limited by the policies and laws that are in place.
GRAHAM: So I just want to reiterate in case, this is not that hard to understand. Senator Tillis, myself and many others believe that sanctuary cities who fail to cooperate with federal officials regarding detention of dangerous illegal immigrants, who choose to let them go should have the consequences of letting them go - getting sued, being held accountable. I’ve been pretty forward on trying to fix the illegal immigration problem. People living in the shadows, they’re afraid to come forward to complain to the cops. I get that part of it.
We’re not focused on people for status offenses here. We’re focused on people for status offenses here. We’re focused on situations you described, Mr. Murray, where people have a history of violence, have a history of misconduct, and we let them go anyway, because the local community will not cooperate with the federal authorities to keep them in detention so they can be deported. So this is a limited class of folks that we’re dealing with, and I would be shocked if 90 percent of Americans don’t agree with us, so to the sanctuary city community, you need to reevaluate your policies.
The abuses described by Mr. Murray are preventable, and the only reason we’re not doing this is because of politics. Let us work on a comprehensive solution to fix illegal immigration, but let us come together Americans and say the following: When a violent offender is among us, in our midst, that we work together - local, federal, state - to make sure that person cannot rape another child, kill another person. If that doesn’t bring us together, what will? So we will be voting on this concept, and I want to thank Senator Tillis for bringing this to the committee’s attention, and I look forward to trying to send a signal to sanctuary communities when it comes to violent offenders you need to change your game.