California Senate Advances Sanctuary Bill, Ignoring Lessons of Triple Murder Case

By Jessica M. Vaughan on June 13, 2012

On Monday, a California judge sentenced unapologetic illegal alien and MS-13 gang member Edwin Ramos to spend the rest of his life in prison for the murder of American citizens Tony Bologna and his two sons, whom Ramos had mistaken for rival gang members. For years before the murder, despite several arrests, Ramos had been shielded from deportation by San Francisco's sanctuary policies. The very next day a California Senate committee added insult to the Bologna family's horrific injury by approving a bill that would revive these disastrous sanctuary policies and enable California jurisdictions to block the removal of criminal aliens discovered under ICE's Secure Communities Program.

The bill, given the wildly inappropriate name of the TRUST Act, would forbid California law enforcement agencies from holding illegal aliens for ICE unless they have been convicted of a "serious or violent felony" (remind me, which felonies are not serious?) and if state or local law allows local cops to help ICE. In order to be allowed to help ICE, California localities would have to enact state-approved protocols to prevent racial profiling, along with a few other ridiculous conditions.

This bill would ensure that many other illegal aliens like Edwin Ramos would remain free to continue terrorizing California communities in defiance of immigration laws because ICE would be prevented from taking custody and removing them if the locality wishes to be a sanctuary, like San Francisco, San Jose, and a few other jurisdictions in California. ICE also would be prevented from removing lesser offenders, like drunk drivers, wife beaters, gang members, and other miscreants even in the localities that want to cooperate. Ramos had prior arrests, and but for San Francisco's sanctuary policy, he likely would have been removed before having the opportunity to murder the Bolognas due to his known gang affiliation and arrests on weapons charges. We know from experience that illegal aliens who are not detained after arrest, even for minor crimes, are prone to abscond from both their criminal and immigration hearings, making convictions hard to obtain and increasing the likelihood of future victims.

It is unclear whether the TRUST Act stands a chance of enactment. It still needs to pass the full Senate and be reconciled with a very different, but like-minded bill in the House. It would need to pass by enough votes to avoid a veto by Gov. Jerry Brown, who was instrumental in achieving the early state-wide activation of Secure Communities in California over the objections of the sanctuary proponents.

If it passes, it is possible that a municipality or local law enforcement agency will file a lawsuit to block it.

But DHS has the ability to nip this problem in the bud right now, if it wanted to. The agency simply needs to start withholding all forms of DHS funding from any local jurisdiction that blocks ICE from taking custody of illegal aliens. The longer it fails to do so, the more misguided policies like this will proliferate, and the more likely that Congress will take charge of the policy. (The amendments to the 2013 DHS appropriations bill that were approved in the U.S. House last week, while well-intentioned, are not sufficient to deter the type of sanctuary policies promoted by the TRUST Act and implemented in Cook County, Ill., for example.)