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  • Julia Johnson

Sanctuary Cities Must Be Held Responsible

Updated: Oct 7, 2019

“We are a sanctuary city!”, Philadelphia Mayor James Kenney sung as he danced around in a video tweeted by his deputy chief of staff in 2018. His face was full of glee, this stands in stark contrast with the faces of the families who’ve lost loved ones at the hands of illegal immigrants. 

Since the controversial dancing video, more cities have declared themselves a ‘sanctuary’ for illegal aliens. Sanctuary states are not far off either. New York recently passed a law allowing illegal immigrants to get drivers licenses. In New Jersey, A total of 513 illegal immigrants received $1.6 million in financial aid for the 2018-2019 school year. 

Also in New Jersey, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal warned NJ officers against working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement or following their orders. He claimed officers in NJ had violated earlier directives issued that had demanded their non-compliance with ICE. 

On the other side of the country, California passed a budget providing funds for the healthcare coverage of tens of thousands of illegal immigrants living in the state. Unfortunately, these are not the only states implementing such policies. It's happening all over the country. 

Free healthcare, free college, and government-issued identification? It's no wonder why they’re coming in caravans. 

The least these cities could do is attempt to repay the debt they owe to the families affected by their irresponsible policies regarding illegal immigrants. 

Republicans recognize the cities’ responsibility in these situations. On July 9th, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced the Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act. Tillis’s legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Ted Cruz (R-TX).

According to Tillis’s press release, “The legislation creates a private right of civil action for the victims of sanctuary jurisdictions, allowing them to bring an action for compensatory damages against the sanctuary jurisdiction as a result of a violent crime committed by an illegal immigrant.”

The punishment for any “sanctuary jurisdiction” that refuses to “waive its immunity as it relates to sanctuary-related civil action” would be the possible withholding of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding.

When it comes to data on illegal aliens, it’s hard to know just how accurate it is. Many sanctuary cities purposefully do not turn over such information. 

Hispanics make up more than 43 percent of California’s incarcerated population, yet they don’t keep records of the citizenship status of its inmates. Texas, on the other hand, does. Their Department of Public Safety reported that illegal aliens were arrested and charged with more than 298,000 crimes, an average of over 39,000 per year, from June 1, 2011, to the end of 2018. 

Of the non-immigration related crimes, there were 1,351 homicides, 7,156 sexual assaults, 9,938 weapons charges, 79,049 assaults,18,685 burglaries, 79,900 drug charges, 815 kidnappings, 44,882 thefts, and 4,292 robberies. 

"The illegal immigrant crime rate in this country should be zero," said Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions of the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security's Release Quarterly Alien Incarceration Report Highlighting the Negative Effects of Illegal Immigration and the Need for Border Security. "Every crime committed by an illegal alien is, by definition, a crime that should have been prevented."

One entirely preventable crime or death is one too many. The deaths of American citizens at the hands of illegal aliens are a direct result of a failure to enforce the law. 

"It's absolutely absurd that we're sitting here discussing enforcing the laws that Congress enacted and the president signed, and we're sitting here begging them to enforce the law," said Laura Wilkerson, whose teenage son was killed by an undocumented immigrant in 2010.

Sanctuary cities are making a clear statement with their actions. They don’t care about laws, and they don’t care about their constituents’ safety. They care about the preservation and growth of an illegal immigrant population, who seem to take priority over citizens.

The legislation introduced by Senator Tillis will begin to hold these cities accountable for the atrocities they’ve allowed and encouraged. It is a discouragement of sanctuary-hood and will hopefully effect change in these cities, and if not, it will—at the very least—help the families affected.

Help as it might, no amount of money in damages can mend the permanent heartache of losing a loved one, especially when it was entirely preventable. There is still much work to do in the hopes of correcting the injustices of sanctuary cities and condemning their existence.