Hartford, CT - Sanctuary City?

By Jessica M. Vaughan on August 13, 2008

If Hartford mayor Eddie Perez signs an ordinance sent to him by the city council, the Connecticut state capital will be the latest to join the list of cities that are obstructing the identification of criminal aliens, and almost certainly endangering their residents in the process. (See .) The ordinance forbids city police from arresting illegal aliens they encounter who are the subject of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) administrative warrant. What the council doesn’t realize (or maybe they do and don’t care) is that a very significant share of these individuals are actually dangerous criminals. It is unclear what public safety purpose could possibly be served by making sworn law enforcement officers ignore warrants issued by a federal law enforcement agency. If Mayor Eddie Perez wants to serve his constituents, citizen and immigrant alike, he should refuse to implement the ordinance. Here’s why:

Immigration charges can be criminal or administrative. The majority of aliens, even the criminals, removed by ICE are removed on administrative charges, usually for entering illegally or for violating the terms of entry. Based on the severity of their crimes, a larger number potentially could be removed on criminal immigration charges. (Criminal violations of immigration law include re-entry after deportation, false documents, alien smuggling, firearms possession, immigration fraud, and convictions for serious crimes of violence, theft, drugs, or DWI.) ICE often does not pursue criminal immigration charges because they are more time-consuming, costly, and require the participation of the US Attorney’s Office. Administrative charges are much easier to pursue, and the result is the same – the alien is removed.

Observers should not assume that those facing administrative charges represent no threat to public safety. For a forthcoming report on immigrant gangs, I analyze 2 ½ years of ICE arrest data on Operation Community Shield. The OCS arrest data, covering the period between Feb. 2005-Sept. 2007, show that many of those with administrative immigration charges have committed serious or violent crimes. Of the gangsters arrested under OCS on administrative charges, 76 percent (3,545) had criminal histories, of which nearly half (1,714) were violent, including 75 murders or attempted murders, 57 sex offenses, 35 assaults on law enforcement officers, and more.

The data for the multi-state area surrounding Connecticut are similar. I picked out gang arrests by the ICE offices in Boston, Long Island, NYC, Newark, Albany, Hartford, New Haven, Providence and Springfield, Mass. There were 963 total arrests of alien gangsters by those offices. Of those 963 arrests, 268 were charged with criminal immigration violations, and 695 with administrative immigration charges. Of those with admin charges, 521 had a criminal history (75%). Of those, 361 had a violent criminal history (69%), including 18 murder or attempted murder, nine armed robbery, 10 assault on a police officer, and 12 rape or sex offenses. And those were just the ones with admin charges.

Here are two examples of the kind of people the Hartford councilors want the Hartford PD to ignore. They are immigrant gangsters who the database says had administrative immigration charges filed, in addition to their other crimes.

1. Yunior Flores, Mexican, member of the Vatos Locos gang, who in 2007 gunned down a teenager in front of a Sweet Fifteen birthday party in Yonkers, NY.

2. Melquis Alvarez-Garcia, a reputed member of the East Boston Loco Salvadorans (EBLS) sect of MS-13, arrested in 2005 for allegedly stabbing 38-year-old Jose Lazo to death April 6, 2002. Alvarez-Garcia was identified as a suspect in the killing a year later, and was been on the run.

These types of non-cooperation or sanctuary ordinances have become more common since Congress rejected the so-called “comprehensive immigration reform” package, which included amnesty and an expansion of immigration. They are an attempt by immigrant advocacy and civil liberties groups to achieve de facto amnesty for illegal aliens and thwart immigration law enforcement in general. Local leaders should not allow our law enforcement agencies to become tools of this agenda, especially when public safety is at stake.