(CNSNews.com) - Hillary Clinton's running mate Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) shrugged off the reality of sanctuary cities in an interview with CNN's "New Day" on Thursday, calling them a "phantom."
"When Donald Trump kind of goes after these phantom sanctuary cities and talks about how bad they are, basically what he's going after is police chiefs. And I trust police chiefs, in terms of knowing what should be done to keep their communities safer -- and police departments and mayors a lot more than I trust Donald Trump."
Host Chris Cuomo asked Kaine why he used the word phantom: "You know that there are places that refuse to cooperate with ICE and they have their assembly of different reasons for why they do it, but sanctuary cities are real. They exist. They're not phantom," he told Kaine.
Kaine said when he was serving as governor of Virginia, "There was a program back then where some cities were…with ICE to essentially be deputized to do the work of the immigration service.
"My law enforcement officials, who are tough law enforcement people, came to me and said, do not do this because if the immigrant community starts to sees us as immigration officials, they won't call and complain about crimes in their neighborhood. They won't be witnesses in cases. Instead what you need to do is work with the community to protect and serve them and let ICE do their job.
"And so we also had a rule that when somebody was in prison and -- or jail, and their sentence was coming up, we would let ICE know about them if they weren't a citizen. ICE could make the decision about whether or not they would want to take action.
"But the notion that you turn police departments against immigrant communities actually make -- in the -- in the eyes of most police officials, makes the police less able to do their job to prevent crime."
Kaine was talking about the now-defunct immigration enforcement program known as 287(g), which deputized local police to check the immigration status of suspected undocumented immigrants and detain them for ICE. The Obama administration ended that program in 2012.
Trump repeatedly has criticized sanctuary cities on the campaign trail: "I have met with many of the great parents who lost their children to sanctuary cities and open borders," he said in his immigration policy speech on Wednesday night.
"This includes incredible Americans like 21-year-old Sarah Root. The man who killed her arrived at the border, entered federal custody and then was released into the U.S. -- think of it, into the U.S. community under the policies of the White House of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.”
Trump also mentioned 21-year-old convenience store clerk Grant Ronnebeck from Mesa, Arizona. "He was murdered by an illegal immigrant gang member previously convicted of burglary, who had also been released from federal custody, and they knew it was going to happen again,” Trump said.
"Another victim is Kate Steinle. Gunned down in the sanctuary city of San Francisco by an illegal immigrant, deported five previous times. And they knew he was no good…
"Then there is the case of 90-year-old Earl Olander, who was brutally beaten and left to bleed to death in his home, 90 years old and defenseless. The perpetrators were illegal immigrants with criminal records a mile long, who did not meet Obama administration standards for removal.
Trump also mentioned a 64-year-old Air Force veteran, Marilyn Pharis, was sexually assaulted and beaten to death with a hammer. “Her killer had been arrested on multiple occasions but was never, ever deported, despite the fact that everybody wanted him out.”
‘These Aren’t Phantoms’
On Fox News's "The O'Reilly Factor" Thursday night, Republican Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State, noted that Arlington, Virginia is a sanctuary city. "They are all over the country," she said.
Kobach also defined the term: "There are two types of sanctuary cities. Don't ask, and don't tell. Don't-ask cities are the ones where the police are not allowed to ask anybody his immigration status. A good example of that is Los Angeles, also New York City. Don't-tell sanctuary city is like San Francisco, where they don't let their police officers tell ICE if they find out that they have got somebody in custody who is an illegal alien.
"And then we have a third kind of a sanctuary county emerging now, just in the last two and a half years. These are counties that won't cooperate. When ICE gives them a phone call and says, hey, we want to take custody of that particular illegal alien you have just arrested because he has got a rap sheet a mile long and we want to deport him, and these counties are refusing to hand over what is usually a criminal to the authorities.”
Kobach said there are more than 200 sanctuary counties in the United States, usually designated as such by city councils, "so it's a huge problem. These aren't phantoms."