As part of the Trump administration’s efforts to crack down on so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions, Attorney General Bill Barr announced that the Justice Department has filed new lawsuits against sanctuary policies in New Jersey and Washington.
One lawsuit targets the state of New Jersey, its Democratic governor, and attorney general over a policy that prohibits the sharing of state records with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.
The DOJ filed another lawsuit against King County, Washington and the county’s chief executive over a sanctuary policy that prohibits ICE agents from using the major King County International Airport for deportations and transport of illegal aliens.
Sanctuary policies are dangerous
Barr announced the legal actions during a speech Monday to the National Sheriffs’ Association Winter Legislative and Technology Conference in Washington, D.C.
The attorney general laid out a number of concerning issues that law enforcement face, but devoted most of his attention to the negative impact so-called sanctuary jurisdictions have on the cooperation between law enforcement agencies when it comes to dealing with criminal illegal aliens.
“Unfortunately, in various jurisdictions, so-called ‘progressive’ politicians are jeopardizing the public’s safety by putting the interests of criminal aliens before those of law-abiding citizens,” Barr said. “They have put in place policies and laws designed to thwart the ability of federal officers to take custody of these criminals and thereby help them escape back into the community. They often proudly brand their jurisdictions as ‘sanctuaries,’ and package their obstructive policies in idealistic and misleading rhetoric about ‘protecting the immigrant community.'”
“Let us state the reality upfront and as clearly as possible: When we are talking about sanctuary cities, we are talking about policies that are designed to allow criminal aliens to escape,” he continued.
“These policies are not about people who came to our country illegally but have otherwise been peaceful and productive members of society,” Barr clarified. “Their express purpose is to shelter aliens whom local law enforcement has already arrested for other crimes. This is neither lawful nor sensible.”
Unlawful and unconstitutional
Since the federal government has sole authority over immigration policy, Barr explained, sanctuary policies at the state and local level are blatantly in violation of the Constitution’s “Supremacy Clause,” which gives authority to the federal government in specific areas — such as immigration.
Barr also pointed out the danger posed to local communities and law enforcement officials by the release of criminal illegal aliens. “These policies are textbook examples of misguided ideology triumphing over commonsense law enforcement,” he said. “And it is the public and our police who pay the price.”
In addition to the actions taken against New Jersey and King County, Barr said that the DOJ will conduct a nationwide review of all “practices, policies, and laws” at the local and state level — as well as “certain” district attornies — to determine whether they are in compliance with or deliberately obstructing federal immigration laws.
“Today is a significant escalation in the federal government’s efforts to confront the resistance of ‘sanctuary cities.’ But by no means do the efforts outlined above signify the culmination of our fight to ensure the rule of law, to defend the Constitution, and to keep Americans safe. We will consider taking action against any jurisdiction that, or any politician who, unlawfully obstructs the federal enforcement of immigration law,” Barr concluded.