No Sanctuary for Murderers

By Marguerite Telford on December 5, 2014

Earlier this week, several media outlets (see here and here, for example) reported on the apprehension of two convicted murderers who had illegally re-entered the country after being deported. The articles emphasized the unified effort between U.S. Border Patrol agents and local police that made the apprehension possible. This law enforcement success story shows the need for federal agents to work with local and state law enforcement. But the bigger picture was missed.

Huge numbers of deported individuals are re-entering this country. Data indicate that more than 25 percent of the individuals taken into custody by U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are previously deported aliens. Many of these individuals were originally removed because of criminal activity. They return to join the nearly 900,000 aliens who remain in the United States despite having received a final order of removal. Nearly 167,000 of these are convicted criminals who were released by ICE and are currently at large.

Law enforcement often discovers previously deported illegal immigrants through routine traffic stops, which was the case with these brothers, deported after serving time for first-degree murder. It is very possible that they were heading toward Illinois, where they had lived prior to their arrest. Interestingly, if they had made it to Illinois and been stopped, perhaps in Chicago, chances are extremely high that the officer would not have contacted federal authorities. Instead the illegal alien driver would have been given a ticket and they would have continued on their way. Chicago, a sanctuary city, has minimal enforcement of immigration law.

These murderers were apprehended because Texas state and local police routinely contact federal authorities to aid in identifying illegal aliens and ascertaining if they have past criminal records. The apprehension would not have occurred in sanctuary cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, Baltimore, Salt Lake City, and New York City. These cities have dismantled immigration enforcement and their law enforcement officers do not call ICE if a person they encounter in connection with a crime is suspected of being an illegal alien.

Policymakers, seemingly uncaring of public safety, should not forget that routine stops often help law enforcement find criminals. Examples abound, including Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, serial murderer Ted Bundy, and Atlanta child killer Wayne Williams.

This dismantling of immigration enforcement has contributed to ICE deporting approximately 32,000 fewer criminals from U.S. communities in the interior in 2014 than it did in 2009 and 69,000 fewer than it did in 2012. Communities throughout the United States are safer thanks to states like Texas that continue to work with the federal authorities to enforce immigration laws.