A Common-Sense Approach: No Sanctuary, No Safe Haven for Criminals

By Dan Cadman on September 20, 2019

My colleague Art Arthur, among many observers, has followed and commented repeatedly and incisively upon the outrageous state of affairs in Montgomery County, Md., (see, e.g., here, here, and here) where the county executive announced in what might fairly be called a smarmy and smug press conference that he was boldly declaring the county a sanctuary for illegal aliens by terminating any form whatever of cooperation with federal authorities.

His assertion that this policy somehow made the county safer was proven quickly wrong. Apparently, the county executive's position has so outraged many county police and prosecutors that they began ensuring that the media was aware of some of the more heinous crimes being committed by illegal aliens, in particular a string of rapes and sexual offenses against minors.

Of course, pursuant to the executive's policy, detainers filed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to take custody of these predators were being ignored, resulting in more offenses. How, exactly, this makes anyone in the county safer, including particularly the immigrant neighborhoods where these men reside, I cannot fathom. The tally in just the last few months is up to nine illegal aliens arrested for sex crimes, and counting. There seems to be a plague of such conduct, perhaps because some alien criminals perceive the county's position as a kind of insurance policy against federal action.

What's clear, at least to me, is that sanctuary policies are a disgraceful sham. It is shameful that, whatever one's politics and attitudes toward immigration generally, many progressives and open-borders advocates have ceased even to draw a meaningful line between those who commit non-immigration related criminal offenses (most especially crimes against the person and crimes of violence), and those who don't. That strikes me as irrational.

It's instructive to compare the policies and conduct of Montgomery County and other sanctuary jurisdictions with those of two entirely different counties whose officials understand the importance of protecting the members of their communities — all of the members of their communities, including marginalized immigrant populations — from serious criminals, predators, and recidivists no matter what the perpetrators' immigration status.

Consider, for example, Sheriff Scott Jenkins of Culpeper County, Va. His office is responsible for both policing the county, and for administering the county jail. In a legal action filed in U.S. District Court by an illegal alien inmate (backed up by the Legal Aid Justice Center of Falls Church, Va., and the deep pockets of the American Civil Liberties Union) last November, the sheriff was sued for cooperating with ICE and honoring detainers. Instead of folding and changing policies or negotiating a deal, the sheriff aggressively defended the actions and policies of his office. In May of this year, the case was dismissed by the presiding judge.

Consider, also, Ocean County, N.J., which has found itself in the odd position of having to take the state of New Jersey to court to block a directive from the state's own attorney general, Gurbir Grewal (see here and here), which prohibits it or any other local government in the state from cooperating with ICE to identify alien criminals who have been taken into custody and held in its facilities so that they can be put into removal proceedings before an immigration judge.

It is astounding that the chief law enforcement official of New Jersey is so adamant about noncooperation with immigration authorities that he is willing to see communities throughout the state put at risk rather than permit them to work with ICE to identify and remove those risks when and where possible.

It's not complex. In fact, the principle is simple: Provide no safe haven for criminals.

Commenting after the lawsuit against him was dismissed, Sheriff Jenkins of Culpeper County said this:

This judge confirmed what people with common sense have known all along — my actions as sheriff, in cooperating with federal law enforcement authorities on illegal immigration, are completely legal and constitutional. Those arguing otherwise are out of touch with the concerns of our entire community and country. Spending time and money helping repeat lawbreakers escape the rightful actions of law enforcement is completely incomprehensible.

Well said, sheriff. Apparently, though, common sense — even among those who should know better — is a rare commodity. Certainly it is in the New Jersey State Attorney General's Office.