Texas sanctuary city crackdown should go nationwide

Texas sanctuary city crackdown should go nationwide
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State and local governments cooperate with federal law enforcement officials in every area except for immigration. Today when it comes to immigration enforcement hundreds of communities across the nation have prohibited information sharing between local police and Immigration and Customs and Enforcement (ICE), a clear break from what Congress intended in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. The IIRIA specifically states that a federal, state or local government entity may not prohibit another government entity from sending or receiving information about an individual’s immigration status.

Sanctuary policies create a neon welcome sign for illegal aliens. But laws like Texas’ anti-sanctuary city law S.B. 4 turn that light off. This law should be a model for other jurisdictions across the country when it comes to cracking down on sanctuary policies and boosting the relationships between state, local and federal law enforcement officials. As an elected Texas sheriff who works along one of the biggest human trafficking corridors in the country — U.S. 59 — having a working relationship with immigration officials is essential to tackle this massive problem.

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Despite clamoring from open borders advocates that S.B. 4 turns local law enforcement officials into ICE agents, the reality is that S.B. 4 enhances communication and cooperation between state, local and federal officials. It absolutely doesn’t turn beat cops into federal immigration enforcers but gives local law enforcement officials the tools we need to keep criminal aliens off the streets.

 

If more municipalities were held accountable for the actions of criminal aliens after they’re released from police custody with an active ICE detainer request, you would see far fewer jurisdictions with sanctuary policies. S.B. 4 forces cities to follow the rule of law, and by doing that it keeps the streets safe for everyone. As a law enforcement official, I feel personally responsible for the lives of everyone in my county, and Texas’ new sanctuary cities law gives me the tools I need to do my job.

Thomas Homan, President Trump’s nominee to lead ICE, recently stated that almost 10,000 criminal aliens who have been released onto the streets have committed another crime. Contrary to the cries of a small group of advocates, Homan logically points out that immigrants, by and large, support legislation like S.B. 4 because they don’t want criminals in their communities.

Further, sanctuary city policies will have the very consequences their supporters seek to avoid. Those who push for sanctuary city policies argue that it is necessary to ensure “families stay together” and that immigrants “feel free to report crimes.” However, Homan has made it clear that if jurisdictions want to shield criminal aliens from immigration enforcement, ICE will be forced to put more resources towards conducting at-large arrests in communities.

In September during Operation “Safe City,” ICE agents arrested nearly 500 criminal aliens. The majority of these aliens had prior convictions in sanctuary cities where ICE detainers are not honored. San Francisco again made the news, this time, because ICE agents arrested a criminal alien who had previously been charged with sexually assaulting an underage girl.

Poor coordination between local law enforcement agencies and immigration officials also has dire ramifications in the war on terror. We learned this lesson from 9/11, when it was discovered that two of the terrorists with immigration violations had come into contact with state and local law enforcement officials before the attacks happened.

Because of the limited number of federal immigration enforcement officials across the country, state and local law enforcement officers are boots on the ground and should able to assist ICE in immigration enforcement efforts.

As a law enforcement professional on the front lines of the effort to keep our border and nation safe, policies that impede communication and cooperation between local governments and federal immigration authorities are an affront to our collective duty to protect the security of the American people. Texas has taken an important step toward ensuring that government at all levels work together to identify, apprehend, and remove people who violate our laws. It is time for the rest of the country to catch up. 

Jackson County Sheriff A.J. (Andy) Louderback is a four-term sheriff, past Sheriffs Association of Texas president, and current legislative director. Sheriff Louderback lives in Jackson County, Texas.