‘Sanctuary Cities’— No Lessons Learned

The Trump administration has expanded the definition of “criminal alien” beyond any legal or common-sense recognition.

President Donald Trump is offering no carrots, just a rather pointed stick, for cities that choose not to act as de facto and de juro federal immigration agents. In an executive order issued on Jan. 25, titled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” the President directs that “jurisdictions that fail to comply with applicable Federal law (will not) receive federal funds, except as mandated by law.”
The demand to cooperate with federal immigration policing efforts creates important concerns for communities and state and local governments. A primary concern, already voiced by many in the law enforcement community, is the erosion of the hard-won trust and improved communication between police and the immigrant communities they serve. Suspicions of racial profiling and a generalized feeling of being persecuted will lead non-citizens to remain silent when crime happens in their homes and communities. The dilemma facing victims of domestic violence is especially poignant: Already there have been instances where Immigration and Customes Enforcement has arrested victims applying for protections orders from their abusers.
The Trump administration has expanded the definition of “criminal alien” beyond any legal or common-sense recognition. As a result, merely being charged with a crime, even a minor traffic offense, is sufficient to make a noncitizen an enforcement priority. The government will not even wait for a formal finding of guilt before detaining and deporting such individuals. Another major concern is the creation of a “second-tier” of the criminal justice system for non-citizens.
The order reinstates an unsuccessful and unpopular program: “Secure Communities.” Its prior iteration, which began in 2008, was a multi-million-dollar program establishing a fingerprint-based data sharing mechanism between local and federal authorities. Local authorities would fingerprint and, upon ICE request, hold even simple traffic violators on suspicion of immigration violations.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the April 24, 2017 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.