Criminal foreigners illegally in this country are being shielded from justice by “sanctuary city” policies, said Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday.
Reading his prepared statement, Sessions repeated a previous commitment to withhold federal funding, as lawful, from states and localities that refuse to comply with lawful detention and transfer orders from federal immigration authorities.
Jurisdictions operating “sanctuary” policies, said Sessions, are refusing to comply with detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for aliens charged or convicted with “serious crimes,” including murder, rape, assault, sexual abuse of children, drug trafficking, and intoxicated driving.
“Countless Americans would be alive today – and countless loved ones would not be grieving today – if the policies of these sanctuary jurisdictions were ended,” said Sessions.
Sessions pointed to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report identifying over 200 instances in a single week (January 28 – February 3, 2017) where “sanctuary” jurisdictions refused to honor detainer requests filed by ICE.
“Sanctuary city” policies, said Sessions, endanger Americans: “Such policies cannot continue. They make our nation less safe by putting dangerous criminals back on our streets.”
Kate Steinle, who was shot and killed in July 2015 by a Mexican who was illegally in the United States, was mentioned by Sessions:
“We all remember the tragic case of Kate Steinle, the 32-year-old woman who was shot and killed two years ago in San Francisco as she walked along a pier with her father. The shooter, Francisco Sanchez, was an illegal immigrant who had already been deported five times and had seven felony convictions.
Just eleven weeks before the shooting, San Francisco had released Sanchez from its custody, even though ICE had filed a detainer requesting that he be kept in custody until immigration authorities could pick him up for removal. Even worse, Sanchez admitted that the only reason he came to San Francisco was because of its sanctuary policies.”
Steinle’s death was regularly mentioned by President Donald Trump during his presidential campaign as an exampe of the dangers posed by the status quo of illegal immigration.
Sessions also called for states and localities to comply with 8 U.S. Code § 1373, which generally prohibits any government entity from interfering with the transmission or reception of information regarding the immigration status of any individual.
Despite being advised by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer that Sessions would only answer questions germane to the new Department of Justice policy, American Urban Radio’s April Ryan shouted the following question as Sessions exited the briefing room: “What about the Eric Garner case and the white supremacist that killed the black man in the store? Is that a hate crime, sir?”
Ryan’s question was hyped by MSNBC’s Katy Tur on Twitter:
Both Ryan and Tur present themselves as objective and non-partisan news media figures.
Watch Sessions’ statement below:
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