Press Conference on Sanctuary Legislation, State House, Boston, Mass.

By Jessica M. Vaughan on November 25, 2021

Statement of Jessica Vaughan

Director of Policy Studies

Center for Immigration Studies

Press Conference on Sanctuary Legislation

State House, Boston, Mass.

December 2, 2019

Good morning, and thank you for your interest in today's hearing to consider state legislation to limit the ability of local law enforcement agencies to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

Today, lawmakers will be considering a slate of six bills, all of which except one (the Du Bois bill, HB 2059) have the common purpose of limiting the ability of immigration officers to gain custody of non-citizens who have come to their attention because they have committed crimes in our communities.

These bills would be harmful if passed — harmful to potentially everyone in the community if allowed to become law.

These bills attempt to substitute the opinion and judgement of local lawmakers and other local officials for the judgement and authority of federal immigration law and the officers who enforce it. They would decree that only certain of the most egregious non-citizen offenders can be subject to deportation — and only if they can be caught after local officials let them back on the streets. They deny federal immigration officers the ability to do their job, which is to enforce the immigration laws that Congress has enacted, so that we can have a legal immigration system with integrity, and to do so in a way that gives the highest priority to public safety.

These bills will mandate the release of deportable non-citizen offenders who should instead be transferred to ICE custody for removal after their criminal cases are completed. We know all too painfully what happens under this system. It guarantees that non-citizens who are a threat to public safety are allowed to return to the community, often to re-offend, or to flee the country and escape justice.

This report provides examples of individuals released locally due to sanctuary policies. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) also has published information of numerous examples from other jurisdictions with sanctuary policies. Nationally, more than 10,000 deportable criminal offenders have been tallied who committed additional crimes after release required under sanctuary policies.

This is an unacceptable public safety cost that is a direct result of the politicization of immigration enforcement. Local law enforcement authorities should be able to cooperate with ICE as they would with any other law enforcement agency, including by honoring their detainers and arrest warrants. Federal law does not require ICE to produce special "judicial warrants". They are a legal fiction. No judge has the authority to provide that warrant; it doesn't exist. They are a fig leaf to provide an excuse to obstruct immigration enforcement.

Ironically, these sanctuary policies do not stop ICE, but they do force the agency to send ICE officers into neighborhoods, public buildings, workplaces and other sites to do their job, at more risk to ICE officers and the public.

Supporters of sanctuary policies say that they aim to dispel fear in immigrant communities that local law enforcement officers will report them to ICE. But immigrants for the most part do not fear the police, according to federal studies. The truth is that they fear the criminals who are being allowed to return to their communities to continue preying on victims.

These bills will not protect the residents of Massachusetts, they protect the criminal aliens.

As an aside, the Du Bois bill, HB2059, is not a sanctuary bill. It requires transparency and the disclosure of records kept in connection with the 287(g) partnership programs. This would be a constructive and helpful requirement, providing the public with additional information on the operation of 287(g) programs and the enormous contribution they make to public safety in the Commonwealth.