House Hearing on Sanctuary Cities

Testimony relates long history of tragedies due to policy

Jul 23, 2015, 10:00 ET from Center for Immigration Studies

WASHINGTON, July 23, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Center for Immigration Studies' director of policy studies, Jessica Vaughan, testifies before the House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing today, focusing on the rejection of detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by sanctuary cities. The hearing takes place after the tragic death of Kathryn Steinle, who was killed by an illegal-alien released by the San Francisco Sheriff despite a detainer request from ICE.

"Local refusal to comply with ICE detainers has become a public safety problem in many communities and a mission crisis for ICE that demands immediate attention," reads Vaughan's opening statement. "[A]s of October, 2014 there were 276 state and local jurisdictions that had adopted policies of non-compliance with some or all ICE detainers, or other forms of immigration enforcement obstruction, such as barring ICE from interviewing inmates in jails. These took the form of policies, laws, executive orders or regulations. These jurisdictions were located in 43 states and the District of Columbia."

View Vaughan's written testimony:

A Freedom of Information Act request from the Center to ICE revealed that from January through August of 2014, sanctuary cities released 5,132 criminal aliens who were previously convicted or charged with a crime or were labeled a public safety concern. Of these, 2,984 had a prior felony conviction or charge; 1,909 had a prior misdemeanor conviction or charge related to violence, assault, sexual abuse, DUI, weapons, or drug distribution or trafficking; and 239 had three or more other misdemeanor convictions.

"One of the most common reasons offered for non-cooperation policies is that they are needed to enable immigrants to feel comfortable reporting crimes," Vaughan explains in her statement. She cites reports from Bureau of Justice Statistics, University of Virginia, and elsewhere that found no evidence of the so-called "chilling effect" from immigration enforcement – i.e., a reluctance on the part of immigrants to report crimes in jurisdictions that cooperate with ICE – and even found that Hispanics, and Hispanic females in particular, are more likely to report violent crime than others.

Vaughan suggests the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP), often offered as a solution to sanctuary cities, is in inadequate and will likely exacerbate the problem. Vaughan says of PEP: "In addition to further reducing the categories and numbers of illegal aliens who will be subject to deportation, and further restricting the circumstances in which ICE officers may issue detainers or move to deport aliens, the program explicitly allows local jurisdictions to obstruct ICE by choosing to ignore ICE requests to be notified of aliens' release dates."

The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit research organization founded in 1985. It is the nation's only think tank devoted exclusively to research and policy analysis of the economic, social, demographic, fiscal, and other impacts of immigration on the United States.

Contact: Bryan Griffith
(202) 466-8185

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SOURCE Center for Immigration Studies