Saturday, July 11, 2015

Washington Post Editorial Board: San Francisco sanctuary policy for immigrants needs serious rethink

7/9/15, Washington Post Editorial Board: "San Francisco’s sanctuary policy for immigrants needs a serious rethink"
"For years, San Francisco law enforcement agencies have refused to work with federal immigration authorities, insisting that cooperation would subvert their efforts to cultivate good relations with the city’s highly diverse immigrant communities. In practice, the city’s sanctuary policy, applied blindly, subverts common sense by allowing dangerous criminals a free pass.

The latest victim of this triumph of doctrine over public safety was Kathryn Steinle, a 32-year-old woman who died July 1, according to police, after being shot in the chest by an illegal immigrant who has been deported five times in the past two decades and has a criminal record in four states reaching back to 1991, including multiple drug convictions.

The accused immigrant, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, had served various prison terms before he was transferred to San Francisco in March on an outstanding arrest warrant. Three weeks later, he was released from the city jail after local prosecutors dropped a decade-old drug charge against him. Rather than notifiying U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which had requested a heads-up so it could deport Mr. Lopez-Sanchez, the jail put him on the street without a word.

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, who runs the jail, defended the release as consistent with the city’s long-standing sanctuary policy. In fact, the policy allows authorities to exercise some discretion, particularly in the case of convicted felons. But in practice, Mr. Mirkarimi and other San Francisco officials have treated ICE as the enemy, stiff-arming all attempts at dialogue, cooperation or plain courtesy. Had the sheriff’s office — which could easily have seen Mr. Lopez-Sanchez’s extensive rap sheet — simply made a phone call to notify ICE of his scheduled release, he could have been handed over and deported. And Ms. Steinle would be alive.

Ostensibly, the city prides itself on protecting undocumented immigrants who it thinks might be unjustly expelled if they are arrested for traffic infractions and other minor violations. In fact, the Obama administration has made clear that its priorities for deportation are serious criminals and recent illegal border-crossers — not law-abiding immigrants with long-standing ties to communities.

That is a reasonable approach, and localities around the country with sanctuary policies — there are some 300 of them, though few operate as unyieldingly as San Francisco — should take note. No convicted felon, let alone one with multiple narcotics convictions, deserves sanctuary in the United States.

That would seem a statement of common sense, but not, apparently, in California. Of roughly 200,000 detention requests issued by ICE to local law enforcement agencies nationwide since the beginning of last year, fewer than 10 percent were declined. Of those declined, more than 60 percent were in California

Now, as a consequence of Ms. Steinle’s death, shaken California officials are starting to rethink their intransigence. San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee, a Democrat and himself the son of immigrants, is calling for a review of the sanctuary policy, saying it “was never designed to harbor repeat serious offenders.” 

What a disgrace that it took a tragedy to prompt that realization." via Lucianne


In 2013 ICE released 36,000 criminal aliens including 193 convicted murders and 426 convicted rapists. ICE must release alien criminals whose crimes call for them to be jailed indefinitely, ie, those guilty of the worst crimes; must release alien criminals if the country of origin "refuses or delays" the person's return, ie, the worst criminals. US laws guarantee its own citizens will be raped and murdered:  

5/15/2014, "Report: U.S. released thousands of immigrant felons last year (2013),", Rebecca Kaplan

"Critics of the administration's immigration policies are pointing to data on the thousands of immigrants convicted of crimes - and then released - as evidence that there should be no further leniency toward those in the U.S. without permission.

The report from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) - a group that advocates for lower levels of legal immigration - shows that 36,007 immigrants in the U.S. illegally who were convicted of crimes were freed from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody, including those who had multiple convictions. Those numbers include  

193 homicide convictions
426 sexual assault convictions, 
9,187 dangerous drug convictions,  

16,070 drunk or drugged driving convictions and more.

The crimes detailed in the CIS report were not necessarily all committed by immigrants in the U.S. illegally. Legal permanent residents can have their green cards revoked and be taken into ICE custody for removal if they commit certain crimes of "moral turpitude" such as certain aggravated felonies. The study's author, Director of Policy Studies Jessica Vaughan, said she did not know what percentage of the 36,000 people have green cards, but estimated it was a small.

CIS says the report is based on ICE data they obtained that was prepared in response to congressional inquiries.

The data comes as Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson is undertaking a review of the nation's deportation program at the behest of President Obama. 

The Associated Press has reported that Johnson is considering limiting the deportation of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally but do not have serious criminal records.

"The revelation that 36,007 criminal aliens were released from ICE custody in 2013, an average of nearly 100 per day, is shocking, and could further shake public faith in the effectiveness of current immigration enforcement policies," the CIS study concluded. "This information is sure to raise concerns that, despite professions of a focus on removal of criminal aliens, Obama administration policies frequently have allowed political considerations to trump public safety factors and, as a result, aliens with serious criminal convictions have been allowed to return to the streets instead of being removed to their home countries."...

"Convicted criminals come into the agency's custody to undergo removal proceedings after they have already satisfied the terms of their criminal sentence," said ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen. "In many of the releases in 2013, ICE was required by law to release the individuals from custody, pursuant to decisions by the Supreme Court and other federal courts. Once in ICE custody, many of the individuals described in the report were released under restrictions such as GPS monitoring, telephone monitoring, supervision, or bond."

Not all crimes will automatically lead to an immigrant being removed from the U.S. There are also some court decisions that have determined ICE cannot hold someone in custody indefinitely if it is unlikely they are likely to be released in the forseeable future. That includes situations where the person's country of origin refuses or delays the person's reentry, or the U.S. his limited diplomatic relations with that country.

Christensen said that court-mandated decisions "account for a disproportionate number of the serious crimes" in the report. For example, she said, the release of 72 percent of immigrants convicted of a homicide were court mandated.

Additionally, not all immigrants will be held in ICE custody while they are challenging their deportation orders in court. Others who have served their sentences will be released "as a discretionary matter after career law enforcement officers made a judgment regarding the priority of holding the individual, given ICE's resources, and prioritizing the detention and removal of individuals who pose a risk to public safety or national security," (ICE spokeswoman) Christensen said. 

But the study's critics, namely groups that support efforts to extend legal status and citizenship to more immigrants who are in the country without permission, say it distorts the real picture of ICE releases.

"It's designed to scare the American public with a lot of misleading information," said Gregory Chen, the director of advocacy for the American Immigration Lawyers Association. He said that the report's definition of criminals who have been "released" includes those who are still subject to supervision including electronic ankle monitoring and regular check ins with ICE. He also described the agency's process for determining which people would pose a public threat is as "very rigorous."

"Rather than attacking the use of smart effective methods like alternatives to detention....there should be better information out there indicating that these are the smart, effective methods to protect the community and also to save the taxpayer dollars," Chen said. He said the criminal justice system has increasingly relied on non-detention methods of supervision lately, but that ICE has embraced detention so much that the numbers have more than doubled since 2001 to more than 400,000 in FY2012. Less than 100,000 people were detained in 1994.

The data obtained by CIS does not include information on the conditions under which each immigrant was released. But Vaughan, the study's author, called into question the effectiveness of non-detention methods.

"I think the word supervision here implies that these individuals are actually being monitored closely when in fact some of the forms are supervision are very light supervisions such as the offenders simply having to make a phone call to an ICE office periodically," Vaughan said, adding that she knows of cases where the ankle bracelet monitors have been cut off.

Both Chen and Ben Johnson, the executive director of the American Immigration Council, also noted that most of the immigrants detained by ICE had previously served out whatever sentence the U.S. criminal system determined was appropriate for their crime. Johnson said that some people who are released are awaiting a decision while their immigration status appeals go through the court system.

"We should be proud of the system that we have and the fact that we don't lock people up forever," he said. "These kinds of scare tactics that cause us to question that fundamental system I think are unfortunate."


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