President Donald Trump has long made stopping illegal immigration a central part of his agenda. Yet as U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr has pointed out, the problem is not limited to illegal border crossings.
As seen in a video posted by the Washington Examiner on Sunday, the attorney general laid out how the Justice Department is targeting the so-called sanctuary jurisdictions run by Democrat politicians.
“Immigration enforcement is an essential part of law enforcement,” Barr began his remarks, part of a speech made to the National Sheriffs’ Association earlier this year. “Unfortunately, in various jurisdictions so-called progressive politicians are jeopardizing the public safety by putting the interests of criminal aliens before those of law abiding citizens.” Watch:
“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 the escape into the community,” he went on.
Sanctuary city policies “neither lawful nor sensible”
Barr then explained how sanctuary jurisdictions have instituted policies that are explicitly designed to allow criminal aliens to escape. “The express purpose of these policies is to shelter aliens whom local law enforcement has already arrested for crimes,” he said, noting that such an approach “is neither lawful nor sensible.”
“States may not regulate the presence of aliens in the United States in a way that interferes with Congress’ regulation of aliens,” Barr said. “Congress has decided that aliens who have no lawful right to be here should be removed, subject to certain processes and hearings. That is particularly true for aliens that have committed crimes in the United States,” the attorney general emphasized. “State and local governments may not stand in the way of that vital federal mission.”
Local politicians will be investigated for criminal conduct
“We are robustly supporting DHS in its efforts to use all lawful means to obtain the information it needs to carry out its mission,” he promised. “This includes the use of federal subpoenas to access information about criminal aliens in the custody of uncooperative jurisdictions.”
Barr also stressed that the Department of Justice is “reviewing all state and local practices, policies and laws in other jurisdictions across the country. This includes assessing whether jurisdictions are complying with the criminal laws, in particular, the criminal statute that prohibits the harboring or shielding of aliens in the United States. Last but not least, we are reviewing the actions of certain district attorneys who have adopted policies of charging foreign nationals with lesser offenses for the express purpose of avoiding the federal immigration consequences of those nationals’ criminal conduct,” the attorney general promised as he began to conclude his remarks.
Barr singled those officials out for “systematically violating the rule of law,” adding that they “may even be unlawfully discriminating against American citizens.”
Battle it out in the courts
The battle between the Trump administration and progressive jurisdictions is now in the courts.
“Despite immense resistance, the Trump Administration has made substantial progress reforming U.S. immigration policy, but there is much more work to be done,” The Heritage Foundation wrote in a summary of the Trump administration’s immigration efforts in June.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has promised to roll back most, if not all, of the Trump administration’s immigration actions if elected. He also plans to encourage immigration by increasing visas and refugees, provide a “roadmap to citizenship” for some 11 million illegal immigrants, and protect “sensitive locations from immigration enforcement actions.”