‘SAFE’ Cities Fleece Taxpayers to Keep Illegal Aliens in U.S.



Harris County, Texas, the third largest in the United States, has pledged up to $1.5 million to represent illegal aliens facing deportation. In doing so, the sprawling county that encompasses Houston joins an ever-lengthening list of jurisdictions expending local tax dollars to frustrate federal immigration enforcement. 

Though Texas outlaws sanctuary cities, Austin, Dallas and San Antonio have bought into a so-called SAFE Network of 18 U.S. cities in 11 states “dedicated to providing publicly funded universal representation to people facing deportation.” The outlays range from the hundreds of thousands of dollars into the millions.

Over a two-year span, the sponsoring Vera Institute of Justice reported that 35 percent of the cases represented by SAFE’s publicly funded attorneys resulted in immigration court decisions allowing illegal aliens to remain in the U.S.

In Seattle, $1.55 million in taxpayer funds were spent to represent 699 illegal aliens. Cities across California have allocated “several million dollars” to wage deportation defenses, with still more public money in the pipeline.

In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy earmarked $2.1 million to help migrants lawyer up, while cities up and down the East Coast tap their taxpayers to do the same.

Ironically, these same big spenders chronically complain they don’t have enough money to provide essential public services, whether it’s filling potholes or putting cops on the street.

Which brings us back to Texas. As they foot attorneys’ fees to block deportations, Harris County and the three SAFE cities are flouting state crime statistics. Since 2011, illegal aliens have been convicted of tens of thousands of serious criminal offenses, including 286 homicides (an average of nearly three per month). Clearly, the continued presence of illegal aliens does not make Texas communities any safer.

It’s also worth noting that the SAFE city trio — after racking up billable hours to unsuccessfully challenge the state’s 2017 anti-sanctuary law in court — were among the most bitter opponents of 2019 legislation reining in local tax levies. Not satisfied that Texas’s property and sales taxes are already among the highest in the country, local officials seek to keep their spending binges going at all costs. 

Now we know at least one reason why, and what for.  

George Rodriguez, a conservative activist and radio host in San Antonio, points out that the nation’s poorest big city also added a full-time “immigration community liaison” position in the city manager’s office to assist migrant-advocacy and open-borders groups. 

“Instead of funding streets, sidewalks, public safety and other projects that benefit all legal residents, the SAFE program justifies and encourages illegal immigration by serving and rewarding illegal aliens,” Rodriguez says. 

“What’s the point of being a legal resident or lawful citizen if illegal aliens receive the same rights, benefits and privileges?”

About Author

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Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006. His deep belief is that immigration is the most transformational determinant of where we are heading as a nation and that our policies must be reformed in the public interest. Over many years on thousands of radio, TV and print interviews, Bob has made the case that unless immigration is regulated and sensibly reduced, it will be difficult for America to reduce unemployment, increase wages, improve health care and education and heighten national security. Prior to joining FAIR, Bob spent twenty years in network radio, marketing and communications after an earlier career in policy and budgeting within the Reagan Administration. Bob has a degree from George Mason University in Public Administration and Management.

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