During a White House press briefing February 1, a Providence, R.I., reporter posed the first-ever Skype-seats question. As part of a new White House initiative, select reporters are invited to attend press briefings remotely via Skype video technology.
WPRI News’ Kim Kalunian asked Press Secretary Sean Spicer when Providence, which had just declared itself a sanctuary, could anticipate that its $600,000 annual federal funding would be cut. Although Spicer didn’t give a specific timeline, he reinforced what President Trump’s executive order has made plain: the Department of Justice won’t approve future federal grants to sanctuary cities. That the first question asked in the new Skype format was about sanctuaries reflects the nation’s heightened concern about giving safe haven to criminal aliens.
Two months have passed since Kalunian’s question, and the sanctuary debate has intensified on both sides. Attorney General Jeff Sessions publicly urged the sanctuaries to reconsider, and reiterated that money would be withheld if local law enforcement doesn’t cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Sanctuary mayors responded with predictable defiance. Joining San Francisco, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, and claimed that denying cities’ monies is unconstitutional.
Like his defiant mayoral colleagues, Murray insists that sanctuary cities are safer than non-sanctuaries, and that losing funding would put citizens at greater risk than they are today. In his official statement, Murray wrote that cities with larger foreign-born populations experience less violent crime. Further inflaming the issue, Murray charged Sessions with bigotry and hypocrisy.
But, as the March 20 Immigration and Customs Enforcement Pacific Northwest Region newsletter proves, Murray is the hypocrite. The ICE report, which incorporates Alaska, Oregon and Washington, states that within a three-week period, ICE arrested 84 criminal aliens, immigration fugitives, and illegal re-entries, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in jail. Among those arrested: a previously deported Mexican national charged with child rape, recently released by local authorities despite an immigration detainer. Also arrested was another previously deported Mexican who had prior convictions for domestic abuse and assault, and a Russian national with priors for meth possession.
The arrestees included nationals from 12 different countries, a testimony to how easy it is to enter the United States illegally. But the most significant ICE statistic is that the largest number of arrests, 19, occurred in King County, Wash., that includes Murray’s allegedly safe Seattle. Despite overwhelming ICE evidence to the contrary, neither Murray nor any other sanctuary advocates will back down from their default talking point that cities harboring criminal aliens are safer than cities that don’t.
The mayors’ refusal to work with ICE is less about their compassion for illegal immigrants and their eagerness to put aliens on a citizenship path, and more about their collective hatred of President Trump. Sanctuary mayors are Democrats, have long immigration advocacy histories, and bemoan President Trump’s victory over amnesty supporter Hillary Clinton.
But President Trump didn’t write the immigration laws – he’s simply carrying out his sworn obligation to assure that they, as well as the nation’s other laws, are obeyed. If mayors expect to earn broader-based sympathy for protecting criminal aliens, a goal at which they’re failing in the public eye, they’ll have to invent a more persuasive argument than the false narrative that sanctuaries are safe.
A Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow, contact Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @joeguzzardi19. He lives in Pittsburgh, Pa.