Sanctuary Cities: About 9,000 Illegal Alien Criminals Set Free Last Year [Report]

Robert Jonathan

Sanctuary city policies in upwards of 200 U.S. municipalities resulted in approximately 9,000 illegal immigrant criminals reportedly being set free in our country in an eight-month period.

That is the conclusion of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) think tank in an analysis of 2014 Immigration and Customs Enforcement data obtained from the U.S. government through a freedom of information request.

Law enforcement officials in sanctuary cities, among them San Francisco, are non-compliant with federal ICE agents and generally ignore a so-called detainer from the feds, i.e., a written notice to hold a particular illegal immigrant in jail until ICE can take the individual into custody for deportation. Such ordinances also generally prohibit local cops from alerting ICE agents that they have arrested an illegal alien felon.

The murder of Kate Steinle at the San Francisco Pier 14 Embarcadero waterfront by a five-time-deported illegal immigrant has sparked a nationwide debate about cities which defy federal law and appear to offer refuge to illegal aliens.

Following the Steinle murder, San Francisco mayor Ed Lee claimed that "it was never contemplated that our sanctuary city would give protection to serious repeat felony offenders."

Overall deportations nationwide in the last few years have plummeted.

The CIS anlysis addressed the public safety ramifications of sanctuary city policies around the country, which refused to comply with a total of 8,811 detainers during the January to August 2014 time frame.

"State and local sanctuary policies caused the release of more than 8,000 criminal alien offenders sought by ICE for deportation in 276 jurisdictions around the country over an eight-month period... Sixty-three percent of the individuals freed by local authorities had prior criminal histories or were labeled a public safety concern at the time of their release. Nearly 1,900 of the released offenders subsequently were arrested for another crime within that eight-month period. ICE arrested approximately 750 of the recidivists, but just over 1,000 (60 percent) remained at large."

The Washington Times has reported that overall deportations have dropped 25 percent this year so far and have decreased 41 percent over the past three years. The number of illegal alien felons removed from the U.S. has also reportedly decreased by 30 percent in 2015 under what the Obama administration has deemed prosecutorial discretion.

Out of 17,000 criminal immigrants set free in 2014 on a discretionary basis, Homeland Security officials also reportedly released into America about 3,700 top deportation priority "Threat Level 1″ illegal alien criminals while their cases were still pending in immigration courts. In addition, more than 100 illegal immigrants released from detention by the federal government while they were awaiting deportation allegedly went on to commit murder in the U.S., according to the Obama administration's own data.

In a letter sent last week to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, who chairs the Appropriations Committee, has suggested that Department of Justice grants should be yanked from any sanctuary city. "Municipalities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration laws simply should not receive the Department of Justice's assistance funding. The freedoms we enjoy -- like strolling on a San Francisco pier with our children -- are possible only when we are willing to enforce the federal laws that keep our families and our freedoms safe."

The CIS report concluded that it is unlikely that San Francisco will face legal jeopardy as a result of the Steinle fatal shooting.

"Many believe that the federal government has grounds to sue San Francisco in federal court for obstructing its work. That's a good idea in theory, but the Obama administration has made it clear that it will assert federal supremacy in immigration matters only when the states like Arizona are trying to help enforce the laws, not when states like California try to block enforcement. Moreover, the Obama administration has given sanctuaries free rein to ignore detainers by ending the successful Secure Communities program and replacing it with the Priority Enforcement Program This new program explicitly allows local agencies to disregard ICE notifications of deportable aliens in their custody by replacing detainers with 'requests for notification.'"

[San Francisco image credit: Peter Kaminski]