Tills Visa Law

Stephen K. Tills, Attorney at LAW

Sanctuary Cities

A recent article by Judicial Watch cites a study by Center for Immigration Studies as to the increasing number of localities that are shielding illegal aliens from the reach of ICE*. (These advocacy groups lean right politically)   This study takes data from a report by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2014 which was only made public earlier this month, in October, 2015. What’s surprising in the report is the growth in the number of localities involved in this sanctuary cities policy and the breadth, in the case of Colorado.
The graph of the growth in sanctuary cities resembles a “hockey stick”, laying flat on the ice with the blade pointing up.  (See DHS report attached below).  The start of the blade begins in April, 2014, which corresponds with the Obama Administration’s policy memo outlining the new priorities policy for detaining those with Immigration violations, which we touched on here in an earliest post.This map shows the 340 Sanctuary cities in the U.S. provided by Center for Immigration Studiessanctuary-cities
(Sanctuary Cities first became a policy of a few jurisdictions with a high percentage of Immigrants in order to shield illegal immigrants who agreed to assist law enforcement in criminal and other legal proceedings.)
It’s not clear that the Obama priorities memo should have led to the spike in sanctuary cities. The memo was meant to be used by DHS agents when they encountered aliens with Immigration violations to determine whether they should be held in ICE custody, according to the new priorities. For those with criminal backgrounds or prior Immigration violations, ICE officers would make an initial custody determination, after conducting an FBI background check.
The initial custody determination based on the priorities memo can later be challenged by the alien in Court. The memo wasn’t intended to give localities the responsibility to decide who they would allow DHS to encounter.  Colorado, for instance, has essentially made their sanctuary policy state-wide, as all Colorado counties are listed as sanctuary. (The Republican Presidential candidates have a debate there tonight)

Republican Presidential Debate at the University of Colorado in Boulder

Republican Presidential Debate at the University of Colorado in Boulder (Oct. 28, 2015)

According to Judicial Watch, the number of jurisdictions that are obstructing immigration enforcement has grown to roughly 340, according to the Department of Homeland Security. This has resulted in the release by local authorities of approximately 1,000 criminal aliens per month. ICE was not able to re-apprehend most of the offenders released by the sanctuaries. As of last year, 6,460 (69 percent) were still at large. Of those still at large, 1,377 (20 percent) had another criminal arrest following the one that resulted in the ICE detainer.
* U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE)ice


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