New Map Shows Number of Sanctuaries and Criminal Releases Still Growing

Center for Immigration Studies, October 8, 2015

The number of jurisdictions obstructing immigration laws has grown to an estimated 340 jurisdictions, up from the 276 jurisdictions reported by the Center for Immigration Studies in July. This refusal by local authorities to follow federal law, allowing ICE to take custody of criminal deportable aliens, has resulted in the release by local authorities of approximately 1,000 criminal aliens per month; just between January 1 and September 30 2014, 9,295 alien offenders whom ICE was seeking to deport were released. Some were released more than once in that period.

The July murder of Kate Steinle in California, the state with the most sanctuary releases, by an illegal alien with seven felony convictions and five prior deportations highlighted the safety impact of local authorities not cooperating with federal authorities. ICE data shows that of the 9,295 criminal aliens released during that nine-month period last year, 5,947 (62 percent) had a significant prior criminal history or other public safety concern even before the latest arrest and release; 58 percent of those who with a prior history of concern had prior felony charges or convictions; 37 percent had serious prior misdemeanor charges; 5 percent had multiple prior misdemeanors.

The huge public safety price paid by communities has made sanctuary jurisdictions a major issue in Congress. Yesterday Senator David Vitter of Louisiana introduced a bill, the “StopSanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act” (S.2146), which would withhold certain federal funding to the jurisdictions obstructing federal immigration law enforcement and provide legal protection for local law enforcement when they cooperate with federal authorities seeking custody of criminal aliens.

View the updated map and entire report here.

Jessica Vaughan, the Center’s director of policy studies and author of the report, said, “Our elected officials must not sit back and watch these sanctuary jurisdictions continue to release thousands of criminal aliens back into our communities in defiance of ICE efforts to deport them, and then witness the harm that inevitably ensues when these removable offenders strike again. There is no more obvious immigration issue on which Congress could act now than to rein in this obstruction of a vital law enforcement mission that keeps our communities safer.”

Vaughan continued: “The Obama administration’s new Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) is not a solution to the sanctuary problem – it makes matters worse. It gives local jurisdictions explicit permission to obstruct ICE and to selectively protect illegal alien offenders. It forces ICE to send officers out to the streets to re-apprehend criminal aliens – an expensive and possibly dangerous task.”

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