Sanctuary Cities

Sessions' Targeting of Sanctuary Cities Not Exactly What It Appears

The rule invoked is about communication and doesn't require cities detain or help deport immigrants.

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ICE protester
Alex Milan Tracy/Sipa USA/Newscom

When Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) put out its first President Donald Trump-administration-ordered report detailing sanctuary cities that refused to cooperate with the feds by detaining illegal immigrants charged or convicted of crimes, attention fell on Travis County, Texas, home of Austin.

The majority of the immigrants listed on the first report had been jailed or held in Austin. So when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced yesterday that the Department of Justice was going to crack down and threaten the federal DOJ grants to sanctuary cities, naturally people might be curious as to how much this is going to hurt that particular progressive island in generally conservative Texas.

Turns out, perhaps not so much. The Austin AmericanStatesman asked local law enforcement officials, and they said Sessions' actions probably won't affect them because they're actually complying with the federal regulation he's pointing to: U.S. Code 1373. Furthermore, even if the DOJ does yank grants, they calculated it affected about $1 million dollars for three programs.

So what gives here? As is thoroughly typical when politicians give a speech, the actual policies don't really match the rhetoric. When Sessions spoke yesterday, he definitely wanted people to make a connection here that the Department of Justice was planning to punish sanctuary cities that refused to help the feds enforce immigration laws and deport illegal immigrants who had been charged or convicted of crimes:

The American people are justifiably angry. They know that when cities and states refuse to help enforce immigration laws, our nation is less safe. Failure to deport aliens who are convicted for criminal offenses puts whole communities at risk – especially immigrant communities in the very sanctuary jurisdictions that seek to protect the perpetrators.

DUIs, assaults, burglaries, drug crimes, gang crimes, rapes, crimes against children and murders. Countless Americans would be alive today – and countless loved ones would not be grieving today – if the policies of these sanctuary jurisdictions were ended.

Not only do these policies endanger the lives of every American; just last May, the Department of Justice Inspector General found that these policies also violate federal law.

The President has rightly said that this disregard for the law must end. In his executive order, he stated that it is the policy of the executive branch to ensure that states and cities comply with all federal laws, including our immigration laws.

That sounds very much like Sessions is saying that sanctuary cities are violating federal law by not helping deport immigrants. But that's not what U.S. Code 1373 says. That code is merely about communication about immigration status between various law enforcement agencies and immigration services. It says that government entities may not prohibit communications between law enforcement agencies and immigration officials about somebody's status as an immigrant or citizen. The code does not require local law enforcement agencies to assist the federal government in deporting immigrants, nor does it require them to honor federal requests to hold illegal immigrants so that ICE can pick them up.

So when Austin officials say they're in compliance with this federal regulation, it means that they're not prohibiting communication about an immigrant's legal status. But since the code doesn't require their police to assist immigration officials otherwise, they've declined to do provide further assistance and ended up on the administration's list.

When Sessions says some sanctuary cities may be violating federal law, what he means are municipal regulations that attempt to prohibit even communications between law enforcement officials or city employees and the feds about a person's status as an immigrant. That's what the federal inspector general's report was actually about. It states that municipal regulations that prohibit employees from passing along information to immigration officials about a person's status as an immigrant violate federal law. The same report also makes it very, very clear that even ICE accepts that requests for cities to detain illegal immigrants for them to deport are exactly that—requests, not orders.

Chicago is used in the report as an example of a city violating this federal regulation, so noncompliance is a thing that's actually happening and could potentially threaten some cities' federal funding. But this action from Sessions is not as broad as he and Trump likely want us to believe.

Earlier today, Damon Root explored the constitutional issues—which are a completely separate matter—surrounding Sessions' orders. Read here.

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92 responses to “Sessions' Targeting of Sanctuary Cities Not Exactly What It Appears

  1. Is it too much to ask for all laws to be enforced by everyone, everywhere, all of the time?

    1. Including federal cannabis laws?

      1. Of course – the law is the law.

        1. Let’s have a war on drugs in rural Appalachia. I’m tired of all those white summer teeth methheads and oxy freaks mooching off my tax dollars. Three strikes and your out. Mandatory minimums. Maybe we can increase the incarceration rate of rural white folk to the same level as inner city blacks.

          1. This is what exactly I’m talkin’ about. I like the way you think.

          2. Agreed. We either have rule of law, or we don’t.

      2. Can’t smoke dope in federal property. The feds can theoretically bust people for smoking pot on legal states for a variety of reasons.

    2. Yes. It is absolutely too much to ask. Frankly it’s too much to ask for *all* laws to be known by everyone, everywhere, all of the time. Regardless, it’s silly to think that the law enforcement people employed by the citizens of one area jurisdiction should be enforcing the laws enacted in another jurisdiction.

    3. Especially perjury.

    4. Do you have any idea how many laws are on the books? Even the lawmakers can’t keep up with them.

      By the way, don’t you dare milk someone else’s cow in Texas.
      Or engage in homosexual behavior there. It’s the law!
      Or take 3 sips of beer while standing… Nope.. just don’t.
      Don’t commit adultery in New York. That’s still a crime (Good advice of course)
      Be careful on halloween… two or more people wearing masks standing together is a crime in NY.
      That woman wearing body hugging clothing in NY? Crime.
      Did you throw a frisbee in LA at the beach? I sure hope you got the lifeguard’s permission!
      If you’re a woman, you can’t drive while in a house coat in Cali.
      In Florida, if you aren’t married, you can’t commit “lewd acts and live together”
      Oral sex? Not in Florida!
      You may not tap your feet, nod your head, or in any way keep time to the music in a tavern, restaurant, or cafe in New Hampshire.
      While you’re in NH, don’t pick up seaweed off of any beaches!
      Don’t try to catch a fish with your hands in Pennsylvania.
      Don’t change clothes in your car in Delaware.
      If you have more than 5 Native Americans on your property in S Dakota, you’re OK to shoot them!
      It’s illegal to deny the existence of God in Vermont.

      So… still ready to enforce all the laws?

      1. We either have rule of law, or we don’t. What are you, some kind of anarchist?!?

    5. Methinks the reason sarcasmic detector broke yesterday with the comments.

  2. Jesus louiseus, am I the only one who has a hard time listening to that man speak? I’m a redneck southerner, but fucking A, Jeff Sessions takes it to another dimension.

    1. +1 Attorney General Boomhauer

      1. “Yeah man, talkin’ ’bout take a ding-dang ol’ sanctry city, man, I tell ya what…”

  3. It says that government entities may not prohibit communications between law enforcement agencies and immigration officials about somebody’s status as an immigrant or citizen.

    And, if the mayor orders the chief of police not to inform immigration officials about somebody’s immigrant status…?

  4. It says that government entities may not prohibit communications between law enforcement agencies and immigration officials about somebody’s status as an immigrant or citizen.

    And, if the mayor orders the chief of police not to inform immigration officials about somebody’s immigrant status…?

  5. As far as sanctuary cities are concerned, it’s once again worth noting that the total illegal immigrant population leveled off around 8 years ago at about 11 million. That means we’re not getting a lot of NEW illegal immigrants anymore. It also means that most of that 11 million population have by now lived here for quite a while.
    It’s estimated that around HALF of that population is eligible for DACA or DAPA, which means they either have US born children or are childhood arrivals. That doesn’t include those who are married to US citizens but don’t have children (yet). So we’re probably looking at a population of which almost all are long-term residents of the US, and the vast majority have significant ties to US citizens and communities.
    The reason sanctuary cities exist, is because people in those cities recognize that. They don’t want to forcibly exile people who are their friends and neighbors, wives, husbands, and parents, (or parents, wives, husbands of their friends and neighbors). People they have known for years and have established ties to the community. Because that would be inhumane. Because they aren’t assholes who care more about whether a working class white guy gets a job than whether families of brown people get torn apart.

    1. Because they aren’t assholes who care more about whether a working class white guy gets a job than whether families of brown people get torn apart.

      LOL way to drop the mask with your pointless racism.

      1. Of course, it’s racist to point out when other people are being racist.
        Also, I forgot that it’s racist to say that brown people aren’t naturally socialists. Also it’s racist to say that white culture isn’t better.

        1. FFS, can people drop the cries of racism? People are against illegal immigration. In the US, the majority of illegal immigrants ate brown. It does not follow that those who oppose illegal immigration do so on the basis of race.

          If half the illegals where white and the other half brown, and people favored only deporting the brown, you may have a point.

          1. Bullshit.
            Half the people arguing against illegal immigration are saying that the “culture” of the immigrants is going to destroy American culture. Spanish speaking Catholics are so alien they have to be kept out, to save America from cultural miscegenation or something. Because they are so different from Irish and Italians and Greeks and Russians. In this case “culture” is just being used as a code word for race. It’s not the religion or the language they object to, it’s their non-white racial blood.

            The other half are arguing that US-born people are entitled to the jobs the immigrants would take. Which is not as racist (except to the extent that US-born people just so happen to be more likely to be white), but is hardly a defensible position from a libertarian point of view either.

            What’s ironic is that people who feel uncomfortable about advocating the latter position then end up feeling compelled to argue the (absurdly racist) former one.

            1. So in your mind, whatever anyone actually says about illegal immigrants is irrelevant because anyone who is against illegal immigration only is so because they’re racist? That’s pretty cool, John.

              1. Oh shit!

              2. Maybe John and HM can start a company together. Tagline: We Can Read Your Mind for Wholesale.

                1. Explain to me how someone who thinks that being Catholic and Speaking Spanish makes you culturally incompatible with America isn’t being racist. There’s all sorts of white people who speak foreign languages and practice Catholicism (or worse, Eastern Orthodoxy!), and somehow they don’t have a problem with those immigrants.
                  Poles, Russians, Greeks, Italians, nobody has a problem with them.
                  So what’s the difference between Italians and Hispanics? I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

                  1. So what’s the difference between Italians and Hispanics?

                    You can’t fit as many Italians into the back of a pickup truck?

                    1. So what’s the difference between Italians and Hispanics?

                      Italy’s gangsters are more chic.

                    2. An Italian will wop you if you call him a spic.

                  2. Yes, the culture of all of Latin America is based entirely on being Catholic and Spanish speaking. There is literally NOTHING ELSE that differentiates it.

                  3. Except when there were massive influxes of Italian, Irish, Polish immigrants there were people who had problems with it. Nativism is not new.

                    1. Except when there were massive influxes of Italian, Irish, Polish immigrants there were people who had problems with it. Nativism is not new.

                      That sort of ethnic prejudice was wrong in the past. So why is it not wrong now?

                    2. Not arguing right vs wrong, just pointing out it is not solely about icky brown folk as you like to contend.

              3. If they’re arguing against illegal immigration on the grounds that Spanish speaking Catholics are scary aliens who are going to pollute America’s cultural purity (and vote for Democrats!), then they are racist.

                1. If they’re arguing against illegal immigration on the grounds that Spanish speaking Catholics are scary aliens who are going to pollute America’s cultural purity (and vote for Democrats!), then they are racist.

                  Huh? That’s not racism. And saying that immigrants will vote with Democrats to expand the welfare state is a valid argument. A shortsighted one, maybe, but certainly valid.

                  1. If we start passing laws saying “groups who don’t vote the way I like should be collectively judged and denied immigration rights”, first of all that’s a collectivist argument – you’re throwing all people with the same socially-constructed racial identity into one collective bucket to be treated identically based on racial identity. And Secondly, because that collective bucket is a racially based one, that literally IS institutional racism. Judging people according to the “racial” group they belong to is racist. Having laws that deny or grant certain groups of people different rights based on race, is racist

                    1. groups who don’t vote the way I like should be collectively judged and denied immigration rights

                      Arguing that illegal immigrants all vote the same way is bullshit collectivism.

                    2. If we start passing laws saying “groups who don’t vote the way I like should be collectively judged and denied immigration rights”, first of all that’s a collectivist argument

                      Yes…

                      you’re throwing all people with the same socially-constructed racial identity into one collective bucket to be treated identically based on racial identity.

                      (facepalm) That makes absolutely no sense. Latin America is not racially homogeneous.

                      And Secondly, because that collective bucket is a racially based one, that literally IS institutional racism. Judging people according to the “racial” group they belong to is racist. Having laws that deny or grant certain groups of people different rights based on race, is racist

                      Tautological argument is tautological.

                    3. (facepalm) That makes absolutely no sense. Latin America is not racially homogeneous.

                      I’ve never accused racists of being logical or consistent.

                      Of course race is a social construct and the idea of “hispanic” as a race makes no fucking logical sense whatever. Nevertheless, people keep insisting that “Hispanics” as a group are doomed to vote for Democrats, because culture or something, so we should judge them all as a group and keep them all out.

                      (As if that’s not going to be used in the future to keep out people that vote for Republicans, either!)

                    4. This article is about illegal immigrants, who just happen to be mostly Hispanic (social construct or not).

                      I’m not aware of any serious proposals to revise immigration policy to keep all Hispanics out.

                      As for voting habits, yes it is collectivist. But it is a piece of evidence we have to see if they are more or less likely to vote for expanded gov’t. Venezuelan and Greek voting habits may not be reassuring, at the generalized level. Of course, illegals can’t vote so its moot related to this debate.

                    5. Nevertheless, people keep insisting that “Hispanics” as a group are doomed to vote for Democrats, because culture or something, so we should judge them all as a group and keep them all out.

                      This argument is a good one. Just stop conflating it with racism, maybe?

                    6. No, literally, judging people collectively as a group according to their racial identity is what racism IS.

                      It doesn’t only mean you explicitly and consciously hate that group of people. It means you judge people by their race, have preconceived ideas about them, based on racial stereotypes, regardless of their individual qualities.

                      Saying that all Hispanics collectively should be judged as a threat to American culture, because Hispanics on average are more likely to vote for Democrats (nevermind that half of Americans vote for Democrats anyways), is quite literally racist. It is a collective judgement of people based on a racial stereotype.

                      And you know what? The ideathat people deserve to be treated as *individuals* not as members of collective groups is a foundational bedrock principle of Western civilization and American individualism. That’s what individualism is ALL ABOUT. if we start judging entire groups of people by their average voting pattern we’re underminging basic principles of American culture. THAT is a much bigger threat to American culture than the possibility that (boo-hoo) Hispanic immigrants might vote the wrong way.

                    7. I’m not sure observed voting patterns of people from a specific country somehow equates to racial stereotypes.

                      Won’t attribute it to you, but I’m fairly sure I’ve seen it pointed out here about proggies messing up California with their voting preferences, then fleeing to Texas from the inevitable consequences and repeating the pattern.

                    8. The ideathat people deserve to be treated as *individuals* not as members of collective groups is a foundational bedrock principle of Western civilization and American individualism

                      Maybe you could explain this to La Raza and the NAACP.

                    9. I’ve never accused racists of being logical or consistent.

                      Nice to see you have something in common.

                    10. Having laws that deny or grant certain groups of people different rights based on race, is racist

                      You really lucked out that everyone from anywhere south of the US is considered Hispanic.

                    11. The funny thing is that, as Fatty Bolger points out, they really *aren’t* ethnically homogenous at all. Hispanic is a complete social construct that only exists from the perspective of white Americans. Actual Latin Americans don’t actually consider themselves a homogenous group.
                      Heck, the Brazillians speak Portugese.

                      Yet, Americans insist on putting them all in one collective bucket labeled “Hispanic”.
                      I mean, this is absolutely a perfect illustration of why race is a social construct. people from these ethnically diverse countries come to the US, and they get treated alike by *white people* and so they *become* an ethnic identity, but only within the context of a society which *regards* them as a single group of others.

                    12. Yet, Americans insist on putting them all in one collective bucket labeled “Hispanic”.

                      What are you complaining for? It makes it way easier for you to call everyone racist.

            2. I highly doubt your assertions regarding “half”. Seems like collectivist claptrap.

              The very idea of a nation involves borders. Its not a stretch that citizens of a nation, often defined by those born within its borders, would want rules regarding said borders. And not be racist for doing so.

              If a white American illegally crosses into Canada, are they suddenly racist for deporting the illegal immigrant?

              1. Racist might not apply, but “bigot” certainly might. You have no idea what Canadians ACTUALLY say about Americans in private, do you?

                1. What, ALL Canadians? Even [gasp] Rufus??

                  1. Especially Rufus!

                    1. Fuck!

                  2. What, ALL Canadians? Even [gasp] Rufus??

                    We’re not exactly private about the fact that we think you’re all cunts. No offense of course.

            3. The ironic part is, those that want to maintain America’s “cultural purity” because American culture is so superior, by keeping out the dirty foreigners, are really arguing that American culture is actually so weak that a few million barely educated day laborers from third world countries are capable of totally undermining said culture from within.

              1. @chemjeff – I agree, but feeling otherwise doesn’t automatically make you racist as HM insists.

                1. No it only makes you racist if you’re using the cultural incompatibility argument. If you’re making the one about economic protectionism for US citizens, you’re just a collectivist douche in a different way. Or if you’re makeing a “law is the law” argument,you’re a different kind of law and order fascist. Either way, get the fuck off my libertarian message board.

                  1. Yes, all bow down to HazelMeade, the One True Libertarian. And a mind reading one, at that.

              2. Right. Our culture is so unappealing that there’s no way those foreigners would want to adopt it. Libertarianism is something only white people can appreciate.

                1. And what of those who don’t? The ones still flying flags from their homeland that they fled?

                  I believe it was Robert Putnam whose research showed that multiculturalism leads to lower societal trust. Is that a good thing?

                2. Native American culture wasn’t exactly embraced by European immigrants.

                3. Where’s this American libertarian culture again? Is it buried somewhere behind the massive welfare and distributionist schemes? How about under the cronyism and rampant corruption? Nope, maybe it’s behind the large percentage of the population who think they’re justified in engaging in violence over politics…

            4. Do libertarians believe that it is racist for free people to come together to form a state for their mutual benefit and not the benefit of anybody who happens by and wants a piece of the action?

        2. Hispanic is not a race. Just stop. People from Spanish-speaking nations can look black (Dominicans, some Cubans), brown (most of Central America and a good chunk of South America), or white (other parts of South America and that little place called Spain). Either way, no race is involved here.

        3. In fairness I don’t think “racist” is the right word. It is just xenophobia. Fear of foreigners, and particularly, fear of foreigners who look *particularly* foreign.

          They are afraid America is teetering on the brink of collapse, and so only by circling the wagons and keeping out all of the foreign “invaders” can there be any hope of survival. That is the apparent bunker mentality of the restrictionists, as best as I can understand it.

          1. And that is literally the only possible reason people would be against illegal immigration?

            1. Nuance is for the weak, screaming hyperbolics and armchair psychology is the ‘in’ thing now don’t you know.

        4. The fact that you constantly hyperventilate about ‘white guys’ with a blatant sneer of disgust and contempt doesn’t really help your ‘these people are racists’ argument.

    2. Stop lying, hazel. It dropped and it’s been coming back up and you fucking knew that already

  6. As Gowdy notes in this particular hearing the New Orleans Police Department has a policy in place that states “The New Orleans Police Member shall NOT make inquiries in to an individuals immigration status”.

    What no one has explained to me yet is how are the federal agencies supposed to know that the NOPD arrested an illegal immigrant if they aren’t allowed BY SPECIFIC STATE/MUNICIPAL POLICY to inquire as to the persons status?

    1. If they want to enforce federal laws, they can send federal agents to do it. Send ICE agents to ask every person arrested by every police agency in the country about their immigration status.

      1. Jesus, Hugh, don’t give them any ideas.

        1. It’s like Hugh – as well Fist, with his comment below – are longing to work for the feds. I for one couldn’t be happier.

  7. As far as sanctuary cities are concerned, it’s once again worth noting that the total illegal immigrant population leveled off around 8 years ago at about 11 million. That means we’re not getting a lot of NEW illegal immigrants anymore. It also means that most of that 11 million population have by now lived here for quite a while.
    It’s estimated that around HALF of that population is eligible for DACA or DAPA, which means they either have US born children or are childhood arrivals. That doesn’t include those who are married to US citizens but don’t have children (yet). So we’re probably looking at a population of which almost all are long-term residents of the US, and the vast majority have significant ties to US citizens and communities.
    The reason sanctuary cities exist, is because people in those cities recognize that. They don’t want to forcibly exile people who are their friends and neighbors, wives, husbands, and parents, (or parents, wives, husbands of their friends and neighbors). People they have known for years and have established ties to the community. Because that would be inhumane. Because they aren’t assholes who care more about whether a working class white guy gets a job than whether families of brown people get torn apart.

    1. Do you think they’d want to forcibly exile some undocumented gang-banger who raped or killed their daughter, or drunkenly smashed into their car and injured their spouse?

      1. Sure, there just aren’t that many of them left.
        The idea that the illegal immigrant population is composed of “rapists” and “criminals” is horseshit. Racist horseshit.

      2. Sure, there just aren’t that many of them left.
        The idea that the illegal immigrant population is composed of “rapists” and “criminals” is horseshit. Racist horseshit.

        1. You’re also making it sound like calling for the deportation of illegal immigrants who are rapists and criminals is also racist horseshit. As noted above, not everyone is a racist who wants immigrants gone because they’re racists.

          1. You see, collectivizing illegal immigrants is racist, but collectivizing opposition to illegal immigration as racist is just dandy.

        2. I doubt very many people believe “the illegal immigrant population is composed of rapists and criminals.” That is a strawman. So you are willing to concede that a compromise solution would be for the mayors of “sanctuary cities” to say “there will be no sanctuary for illegal immigrant criminals?” I think the anger about sanctuary cities would decrease immensely if common sense prevailed and it was clear that illegal criminals were not included in the sanctuary given.

          1. Most people probably don’t believe illegals are solely rapists and criminals, but people in Rockville MD know that illegal and rapist are not mutually-exclusive terms.

            What’s funny here is the inclusion of Austin, the same city that holds Uber/Lyft drivers to a higher legal standard than those who flout immigration laws.

          2. Depends on which crimes. Violent crimes yes. Traffic tickets no.

  8. I read this as an indication that Trump needs to start pumping more federal dollars into liberal cities, get them really hooked and then withhold them for being bad.

    1. +50 Shades of Orange

  9. It’s not like I’m going to bother researching the question, but if being in the country illegally is a violation of federal law but states and subsidiary jurisdictions have no authority in that area, why would it be of any concern to the state or local police to even ascertain whether or not a particular person is an illegal immigrant? If they’ve detained or arrested somebody for a violation of state or municipal code, that’s the only violation that’s any of their business, isn’t it? Sure, they may check to see if the person has outstanding warrants outside their jurisdiction, but they’re not required to, are they? It’s not like the state of Illinois can require the state of Indiana to check every person they arrest for outstanding Illinois warrants, so I don’t see how the feds can order it done.

    1. Even if they were in the country illegally, it wouldn’t come up on a warrant search unless a judge issued a warrant for it.

    2. Don’t they verify your identity as part of the booking process?

  10. So you’re saying that what we’ve got here is not a failure to communicate?

  11. President Eisenhower once said of right-wing senator (from California!) William Knowland “For him there is no final answer to the question ‘How dumb can you get?'” Sessions is making Knowland look like Einstein.

  12. Sessions is making Knowland look like Einstein, and then making Einstein look like Lydia Sebastian.

    1. And then making Lydia Sebastian look like Alan Vanneman.

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