U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions highlighted the San Diego suburb of Escondido last Friday to illustrate how jurisdictions that limit cooperation with immigration authorities jeopardize public safety. Sessions offered no evidence that “sanctuary jurisdictions” or immigrants are responsible. And he failed to mention that the federal government has held up Escondido as a model for cooperation with immigration authorities, reports the Associated Press. Sessions said Escondido’s gang violence has jumped “between two violent gangs warring for turf – more shootings, more guns, more terrorized neighborhoods. Sanctuary jurisdictions have put known gang members back on the streets to join the Westside gang in Escondido.”
Actually, AP reports, since 2010, the city has had an extraordinarily close relationship with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, giving ICE officers desk space at police headquarters and working in tandem with them on everything from traffic stops to gang sweeps to remove people who have been previously deported and have criminal records. Critics say the relationship has unnerved immigrants; supporters say it has improved public safety in the city of 150,000. In 2012, ICE gave Escondido a “Partnerships for Public Safety” award. Violent crime has held steady, dropping 5 percent during the first half of 2016 compared to the same period last year. When asked about Sessions’ characterization, Police Chief Craig Carter said, “We had nothing I’m seeing as a spike or increase.” Some officials have said gang violence has increased but haven’t linked it to immigrants.