The feds want to prosecute José Garcia Zarate after he was already acquitted in a California court on a murder charge in the Steinle shooting, to underline their hardline immigration policies. But the Court, which is considering another case involving Fifth Amendment protections against double jeopardy, may have the ultimate say.
The president wants to punish jurisdictions that fail to refer undocumented immigrants who are arrested to federal immigration authorities. But even the White House admits it’s hard to define what a “sanctuary city” is.
A California study rebuts arguments that urban counties which limit or refuse cooperation with immigration authorities in reporting undocumented immigrants are breeding grounds for crime. In particular, white residents of sanctuary cities are 62 percent less likely to die from gun violence than their counterparts elsewhere, the study found.
The Trump administration arrests 498 people over four days in “Operation Safe City, targeting communities that are resisting the president’s aggressive deportation agenda. Deportations are down during the current fiscal year.
The controversial law, which had been scheduled to take effect Friday, has pitted Republican state leaders against several Democratic-leaning cities. Critics argue the law encourages racial profiling and frays relations between police and immigrant communities.
Local courthouses have become the latest battleground in the federal government’s attempt to co-opt local criminal justice systems for immigration enforcement. The 15th-century doctrine of common-law privilege from arrest could be a useful precedent in their defense, says a University of Denver law professor.
The attorney general says coveted federal grants will be withheld from cities unless they give federal immigration authorities access to jails and provide advance notice when someone in the country illegally is about to be released. Among the grants at stake: a popular program that provides police money to buy bulletproof vests and body cameras.
Thomas Homan, acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said that since President Trump entered office, illegal border crossings have dropped by almost 70 percent, “an historic low,” and arrests inside the country have jumped 40 percent. He calls sanctuary cities “ludicrous.”
“This is a federalism issue,” said Jorge Elorza, mayor of Providence, R.I., and the son of immigrants. “The idea of local control is deeply embedded in American history, and what we have now is a very aggressive attempt by the federal government to commandeer our local police departments to become immigration agents.” He vowed “massive and aggressive lawsuits,” a resistance echoed by several local leaders.
In an Aug. 31 speech on immigration in Phoenix, Donald Trump claimed that sanctuary cities “have resulted in so many needless deaths.” Not only was he factually inaccurate, but a federal court decision last month has vindicated the policies Trump and his supporters revile.