Barr announces 'significant escalation' against sanctuary cities' undermining of national security
Updated: Feb 11
Sanctions against multiple Left-wing self-described "sanctuary cities" were announced today by Attorney General Bill Barr. Alleging that those cities protect illegal immigrants in such a way as to jeopardize domestic security, Barr said at the National Sheriff’s Association 2020 Winter Legislative and Technology Conference in Washington, D.C. that the DOJ would undertake a slew of additional sanctions that he called a "significant escalation" against left-wing local and state governments that obstruct the "lawful functioning of our nation's immigration system."
Barr said the Justice Department would immediately file multiple lawsuits against sanctuary jurisdictions for interfering with federal immigration enforcement, and implement unprecedented national reviews of left-wing sanctuary governments and prosecutors.
"The department is filing a complaint against the State of New Jersey seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against its laws that forbid state and local law enforcement from sharing vital information about criminal aliens with DHS," Barr said.
That was a reference to New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Singh Grewal's Law Enforcement Directive 2018-6, which the DOJ says illegally bars officials from sharing the immigration status and release dates of individuals in custody. It also requires New Jersey law enforcement to “promptly notify a detained individual, in writing and in a language the individual can understand” if Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) files an immigration detainer request for the individual.
"We are filing a complaint seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against King County, Washington, for the policy ... that forbids DHS from deporting aliens from the United States using King County International Airport," Barr continued.
That lawsuit targets King County Executive Order PFC-7-1-EO, which the DOJ said has dramatically increased operating costs for ICE as detainees have had to be transported to Yakima, Washington. The executive order unconstitutionally conflicts with the federal Airline Deregulation Act, which "prohibits localities such as King County from enacting or enforcing laws or regulations that relate to prices, routes, or services of air carriers," the DOJ said.
"Further, we are reviewing the practices, policies, and laws of other jurisdictions across the country. This includes assessing whether jurisdictions are complying with our criminal laws, in particular the criminal statute that prohibits the harboring or shielding of aliens in the United States," Barr added, noting that the DOJ would support DHS with "federal subpoenas to access information about criminal aliens in the custody of uncooperative jurisdictions."
And, Barr said, "we are meticulously reviewing the actions of certain district attorneys who have adopted policies of charging foreign nationals with lesser offenses for the express purpose of avoiding the federal immigration consequences of those nationals’ criminal conduct. In pursuing their personal ambitions and misguided notions of equal justice, these district attorneys are systematically violating the rule of law and may even be unlawfully discriminating against American citizens."
Sanctuary cities, Barr said, are defined as those with policies that allow "criminal aliens to escape" federal law enforcement -- and some jurisdictions are becoming "more aggressive" in undermining immigration authorities, with some local politicians develop "schemes" to circumvent immigration officials.
Barr is pulling no punches in landing hard on these Left-leaning sanctuary cities. That self-imposed designation, he said, allow "criminal aliens to escape" federal law enforcement — and some jurisdictions are becoming "more aggressive" in undermining immigration authorities, with some local politicians develop "schemes" to circumvent immigration officials.
"In November, ICE filed a detainer for an alien who was arrested for assaulting his own father," Barr said. "The local police in New York City that had the alien in custody ignored the detainer. So the alien was released onto the streets, and last month, he allegedly raped and killed 92-year-old Maria Fuertes, affectionately known as 'abuelita,' a fixture of her Queens neighborhood."
Additionally, In October 2017, DHS "identified a convicted criminal alien with four prior removals at a city jail in Washington State," Barr continued. "DHS filed a detainer. Subsequently, the alien fought with jail staff and was taken to a local medical center for treatment. But after receiving treatment, local officials released the alien in violation of the detainer. In January 2018, the alien was arrested and booked for murdering and dismembering his cousin."
"The express purpose of these policies is to shelter aliens whom local law enforcement has already arrested for crimes," Barr said, noting that the Constitution empowers the federal government to enforce immigration laws, even as it entrusted the police power to the states. "This is neither lawful nor sensible."
Barr emphasized that there is no way to determine how many "criminal aliens" are in the U.S., in part because of "local policies," although recent estimates under the Obama administration put the number as high as 2 million.
"Assuming that estimate was accurate, the numbers are likely even higher today despite the Trump Administration’s consistent and concerted efforts to find and deport this criminal population," Barr said.
It is the "rule of law that is fundamental to ensuring both freedom and security," Barr asserted, saying law enforcement officers are increasingly under fire in "heinous" attacks that "come against the backdrop of cynicism and disrespect for law enforcement."
Barr touted the DOJ's lawsuit against California and other states over their sanctuary policies. The suit over California involves the law prohibiting the federal government from conducting operations in its own affiliated private immigration facilities and detention centers.
The law, Barr said, was a "blatant attempt by the State to prohibit DHS from detaining aliens, and to interfere with the ability of the Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Marshals Service to manage federal detainees and prisoners."
"The Founding Fathers carefully divided responsibility and power between the federal government and the state governments," Barr said. The 'Supremacy Clause' in Article VI of the Constitution provides that the 'Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof … shall be the supreme law of the land.'"
He added: "This Clause is a vital part of our constitutional order. Enforcing a country’s immigration laws is an essential function of the national government. No national government can enforce those laws properly if state and local governments are getting in the way. While federal law does not require that 'sanctuary jurisdictions' actively assist with federal immigration enforcement, it does prohibit them from interfering with our enforcement efforts."
This is what most populist voters have been hoping for the past three years. It is undoubtedly the Trump Administration's desire to rid the land of so-called "sanctuary cities." It has been necessary to wait for the nonsense to clear, and that happened with the acquittal of President Trump by the Senate on spurious allegations of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Perhaps Attorney General Barr can now get on with the business of righting the wrongs of the previous administration's tolerance of utterly unconstitutional local self-declarations of "sanctuary" they have no grounds to claim.