At a time when an alarming number of cities and counties proclaim themselves “sanctuaries” for illegal aliens, one large county has opted to buck that trend and – to a certain extent – comply with federal law. San Diego County, California, home to more than three million people, has announced that it will share criminal records of illegal aliens with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). While San Diego County has a long way to go before it can officially declare itself fully compliant with federal immigration law, its latest move definitely represents a step in the right direction.
According to ICE spokeswoman Lauren Mack, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is one of the first agencies to comply with a series of administrative subpoenas issued by immigration officials in recent weeks. An administrative subpoena is a formal order to provide a government agency with information that it needs in order to perform its assigned functions. ICE has also sent subpoenas to other state and local law enforcement agencies in the sanctuary states of California, Colorado, Connecticut, New York, and Oregon. San Diego County is one of more than 550 other cities, counties, and states that have declared themselves sanctuary jurisdictions.
It comes across as tragically ironic that communities like San Diego, which shield criminal illegal aliens from deportation, call themselves “sanctuaries.” In reality, these so-called “sanctuary communities” put the lives of law-abiding residents at risk. As former Acting Director of ICE Tom Homan explained, “nearly 10,000 criminal aliens that have been released, rather than turned over to ICE…have recommitted another crime.”
All of those crimes were preventable, if the foreign nationals who committed them had been promptly removed from the U.S. A disgraceful example of such a preventable crime came out of New York City, where a criminal illegal alien released under the city’s sanctuary policy went on to rape and murder a 92-year-old woman. Where was her sanctuary?
Not only do these sanctuary policies threaten public safety, they also fly in the face of federal law. As reiterated by the Supreme Court numerous times – most recently in Arizona v. United States –immigration is the exclusive domain of the federal government. And as the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution establishes, all federal laws supersede state laws and policies. Since 8 U.S. Code § 1373 prohibits state and local governments from blocking the exchange of information regarding an individual’s “citizenship or immigration status” with federal immigration agencies, sanctuary policies violate federal law.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department continues to stress that they want to remain, in some form, a sanctuary city. “A federal subpoena creates a mandatory legal obligation and is not ‘cooperation,’” the office argued in a statement. Of course, San Diego County’s lawmen appear to have missed the fact that the Supremacy Clause obligates them to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement, even in the absence of a subpoena. Nevertheless, their decision to comply with subpoenas from ICE shows that putting pressure directly on the officials responsible for implementing sanctuary policies is beginning to yield some positive results.
Only time will tell if the San Diego effect sweeps to other sanctuary jurisdictions across the country. But for the sake of our safety and national sovereignty, it’s important that Congress and the Trump administration continue to keep the pressure on these so-called “sanctuary cities” to follow federal law.