Liberal activists and open border advocates argue that sanctuary policies are good for the communities that adopt them because they make them safer by increasing trust between illegal aliens and the police.
But the victims and their families do not agree. There are countless cases of violent crimes — including rape and murder — that have happened because local law enforcement refused to work with ICE.
In January, a 92-year-old grandmother was raped and murdered in New York City by a criminal illegal alien who was released from police custody due to the city’s sanctuary policy. Her granddaughter went on to say that “[t]he tragedy in all of this is the fact that this could have been avoided, had there been no sanctuary law. The tragedy is my grandmother is not ever going to be here again.”
More recently, an illegal alien who has been previously deported for felony charges sexually assaulted a 3-year-old in Chicago after the city’s law enforcement declined detainer requests by ICE.
To make things worse, transnational human traffickers also rely on sanctuary policies.
MS-13 cliques in the United States have turned to sex trafficking to sustain themselves and to send money back to their leadership in Central America. They use physical violence and/or the threat of violence against victims or their families to force them into commercial sex.
Between 2009 and 2015, social workers and police officers in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., detected at least nine child prostitution rings run by MS-13.
In 2012, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia prosecuted a member of MS-13 who recruited girls as young as 14 and forced them to engage in commercial sex acts eight to 10 times a day, sometimes seven days a week.
If the goal is to provide help to trafficking victims and to apprehend traffickers, sanctuary policies are not the answer. The FBI has indicated that human traffickers often have prior criminal records and are prone to traffic again. There is already immigration relief in place for foreign victims of human trafficking in the form of U and T visas, which allow them to get out of the shadows and get the help they need without compromising collaboration between local and federal counterparts.
On top of the clear negative effect on safety, sanctuary policies are contrary to federal law that prohibits federal, state or local government entities or officials from withholding information regarding the citizenship or immigration status of any persons from immigration enforcement agencies.
People from all over the globe flee countries with widespread corruption, impunity and violence to come to America because we are a nation of laws. By not enforcing our laws, the United States fails to be the beacon of hope and justice to the world and becomes precisely what others are fleeing from.
Accordingly, the Trump administration has rightfully sought to end sanctuary policies throughout the country. It has deployed tactical Border Patrol agents to sanctuary cities to help ICE enforce immigration laws, has sued officials and localities that have adopted sanctuary policies, and has attempted to make it harder for these jurisdictions to receive federal grants. In his State of the Union address, President Trump also endorsed the Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act, where victims or their families can sue sanctuary jurisdictions for crimes committed by illegal aliens.
Unfortunately, activist judges have blocked many of these efforts by the administration in the courts, and it’s unlikely that any legislation addressing the issue will pass the divided Congress — especially during a presidential election year.
While political bickering in D.C. prevents decisive movement against sanctuary policies, states can take the lead of Texas and ban them themselves. Texas law requires city and county officials to assist federal immigration agencies. If they do not, sanctuary cities may face a penalty of $25,500 each day they violate the law, law enforcement agents can be charged with criminal misdemeanors for not complying and the state attorney general can file a petition to remove them from office.
Jurisdictions that do not enforce immigration laws are complicit in crimes committed by illegal aliens. No more lives need to be lost, and no one needs to be a victim of sexual abuse by individuals who should not be in the country in the first place. Banning sanctuary policies is the common sense and humane thing to do.
• Igor Magalhaes is a legislative fellow with the Texas Public Policy Foundation.