Sanctuary City Solutions that Would Solve Nothing

By Mark Krikorian on July 23, 2015
National Review Online

, July 23, 2015

Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Duncan Hunter are honorable public servants who have helped fight the Obama administration's efforts to gut American sovereignty. That's why it's so disappointing that their respective bills in response to the Kate Steinle killing are so inadequate. Neither bill would have prevented Ms. Steinle's death, or the deaths of the many other victims of sanctuary city policies.

Hunter's bill – HR 3009 – is likely to be voted on today or tomorrow. It would deny reimbursement for jailing illegals to jurisdictions that don't share information with federal immigration authorities. First of all, these jurisdictions don't want to detain illegals anyway, so why would they care about getting reimbursed? What's more, it does not compel compliance with ICE detainer requests or require jurisdictions to notify ICE of prisoner releases or require ICE agents regular access to local jails, which is what's needed.

But at least Hunter's bill is merely ineffectual; Grassley's bill – S 1812 (here's the text) – would effectively codify Obama's "prosecutorial discretion" policies that exempt almost all illegal aliens from deportation. By mandating compliance only with ICE detainers for certain criminal aliens, "Congress would be suggesting," as my colleague Jessica Vaughan testified today before the House Judiciary Committee, " that it's acceptable for state and local governments to ignore detainers based on other types of immigration violations." She continued:

Moreover, allowing agencies to reject detainers for aliens convicted of misdemeanors and other crimes ignores the reality that these offenders also can be a threat to public safety, in addition to being deportable. Such conditions on cooperation and enforcement will only undermine these laws and serve as an endorsement of the Obama administration's disastrous "worst of the worst only" limitations on enforcement.

I assume the decision to craft these bills as they are was intended to attract Democratic co-sponsors. But since Obama will veto anything addressing this problem, even Hunter's impotent bill, there's no reason to pander to the Democrats' anti-enforcement prejudices.

And there's already a bill that properly addresses the most serious shortcomings in immigration enforcement: the Davis-Oliver Act, authored by Rep. Trey Gowdy, which has already been approved by the House Judiciary Committee and been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Jeff Sessions. But instead of passing this carefully crafted, vetted bill that addresses the broader problem – and through their opposition would highlight the Democrats' real values – GOP leaders are letting the opportunity slip through their fingers.

Abba Eban might as well have been talking about the Republican leadership when he noted that the Arabs "never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity."