The issue of sanctuary cities has become a hot topic across the country, and it may play a role in the upcoming elections. It has also become part of the debate in a local sheriff's race in Louisiana.
One candidate for sheriff of Lafayette Parish, west of Baton Rouge, cited my colleague Jessica Vaughan's new report on the subject which maps all sanctuary cities based on information provided by the Department of Homeland Security.
CIS's report was featured in the local newspaper's story on the controversy last week. The story quoted the Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel discounting the report as coming from "some anti-immigration wacko group".
While sophomoric, the quotation was colorful and made good copy. But elementary journalistic ethics, not to mention common sense, would require reaching out to the aforementioned group for a response. But the reporters, Claire Taylor and Seth Dickerson of The Daily Advertiser in Lafayette, chose not to do so.
If they had, they would have learned (and been able to tell their readers) that the sanctuary city report is based on data from the Department of Homeland Security. Vaughan would also have been able to provide other interesting data, such as the fact that federal immigration authorities report there are about 340 sanctuary jurisdictions in the United States, and that from January through September of 2014 local sanctuaries released 9,295 alien offenders that ICE was seeking to deport, a rate of about 1,000 per month. Vaughan would also have noted that of this total number of released criminal aliens, 5,947 (62 percent) had significant prior criminal histories or other public safety concerns even before the arrest that led to the ICE detainer request.
Instead of picking up the phone and interviewing the author of the report at the center of their story, the Advertiser's crack staff added depth and context to their story by pasting in a silly quote about CIS that they found on the Southern Poverty Law Center's web site.
I reached out to both reporters over Twitter a few times, politely asking if they'd contact Jessica Vaughan and update the story. They did not respond. I also called the Advertiser, and a gentleman at the news department said he'd have a top editor give us a call back. No call so far, but if that happens, this posting will be updated.