California’s “sanctuary state” bill, SB24, has been stirring controversy since it was first introduced for debate in the state legislature. Critics of the bill say it opens the door for crime and an increase in undocumented immigrants, while proponents argue they are protecting the rights of those affected and concentrating law enforcement resources on actual crimes rather than immigration enforcement.
On Thursday, Governor Brown signed the bill into law, making California the first so-called “sanctuary state.” Trump’s Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Tom Homan, did not take the news well. On Friday, the agency released the following statement:
‘Governor Jerry Brown’s decision to sign SB54 and make California a sanctuary state for illegal aliens – including those who have committed crimes – will undermine public safety and hinder ICE from performing its federally mandated mission. The governor is simply wrong when he claims otherwise.
‘SB54 will negatively impact ICE operations in California by nearly eliminating all cooperation and communication with our law enforcement partners in the state, voiding the delegated authority that the Orange County Sheriff’s Office has under the 287g program, and prohibiting local law enforcement from contracting with the federal government to house detainees.
‘ICE will have no choice but to conduct at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at worksites, which will inevitably result in additional collateral arrests, instead of focusing on arrests at jails and prisons where transfers are safer for ICE officers and the community. ICE will also likely have to detain individuals arrested in California in detention facilities outside of the state, far from any family they may have in California.
‘Ultimately, SB54 helps shield removable aliens from immigration enforcement and creates another magnet for more illegal immigration, all at the expense of the safety and security of the very people it purports to protect.
‘Despite the severe challenges that this law creates for ICE, we remain committed to our public safety mission and we will continue to do our sworn duty to seek out dangerous criminal aliens and other immigration violators. ICE seeks straightforward cooperation with all sheriffs and local elected officials. This misguided legislation will severely undermine those efforts.’
The goal of sanctuary laws is actually to help law enforcement. That’s why police overwhelmingly support them. What, nobody told you that? It’s true. When there is a chance that undocumented immigrants could be deported for just talking to police, witnesses to crimes, or people that have other information, are not typically willing to come forward. When the opposite is true, and communities are cooperative, police find they have a much easier time investigating criminal behaviors. Contrary to popular belief, immigrants actually commit crime at a lower rate than American citizens. Notably, being undocumented is not itself a crime.
Over-enforcement of federal immigration laws can be a misuse of local police forces and funding. Studies done under the infamous Joe Arpaio, famous for his war on immigrants, showed that enforcement of other crimes suffered as a result. That means that his anti-immigrant policies directly increased rapes, assaults, murders, and crimes against children. Priorities matter, and many people do not feel that federal immigration enforcement is the duty of local law enforcement. In California, for example, data showed that detainees awaiting ICE investigation typically stayed in jail three times longer than other detainees — that means they’re costing three times the resources. And despite immigration being a matter of federal jurisdiction, it’s frequently municipalities and states that end up dealing with it.
So, in response to California putting a legal wall between federal immigration enforcement and local criminal enforcement, ICE just issued a threat: “If you don’t turn over jailed immigrants, we’re going to do large scale raids of homes and businesses.” Such raids have, in the past, been found to be racially biased. They also sow terror and ensure that communities live in fear. Of course, that’s the point.
Now seems like a good time to point out that Hispanics are no longer the fastest-growing immigrant group, and that net immigration at the border has been near zero for years. That’s not something you’ll hear on Fox News, but it’s true. And a good number of those within the United States without documents didn’t cross the border illegally, while we’re at it — they overstayed visas. Even crazier? Many of them are white. “Illegal immigration” is not a real issue; it’s a divisive issue stirred up by those who believe division and exploitation are effective ways to govern.
Featured image via Alex Wong/Getty Images