A Bill Up for a House Vote Today to Punish ‘Sanctuary Cities’ Won’t Improve Public Safety. It Will Undermine It.

Ships passing in the night (Source: Justin Kern/Flickr)

It’s not every day that the Fraternal Order of Police, Major County Sheriffs’ Association, Conference on Mayors, and National League of Cities line up with the ACLU on the same side of legislation.

But that will be the case today when the House votes on H.R. 3009, the “Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act.” Civil liberties groups and immigration activists have joined with law enforcement, religious organizations, cities, and mayors to oppose this bill.

Why do all these different groups stand unified against this bill? Because it seeks to punish cities that have tried to improve public safety by taking commonsense measures to build community trust and ensure that crime victims cooperate with the police.

Introduced in the wake of this month’s fatal shooting of Ms. Kathryn Steinle, the bill sponsors want to punish San Francisco and other so-called “sanctuary” cities by banning local policies that limit police inquiries into immigration status in certain situations.  They plan on doing this by cutting off these cities from significant Justice Department funding. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), went on Fox News recently to drive home how Congress can address San Francisco’s policy. “Cutting federal funding — it’s that simple,” he told Bill O’Reilly.  “About $40 million — pull that away [from California].”

That solution sounds simple enough, right? Stick it to San Francisco and those “sanctuary” cities. But the bill is not simple and, in fact, provides no solution. While offered as a direct response to the shooting of Ms. Steinle in early July, the bill proposes nothing that would have changed the situation leading up to her tragic death.  In other words, had the legislation been the law of the land in 2015, it would not have made a difference in the case of Ms. Steinle.

Although pitched as a crime-fighting measure, the bill would actually make our communities less safe. Across the country in cities large and small, police have enhanced their ability to fight crime by deciding that they will not conduct irrelevant interrogations about immigration status while conducting criminal investigations. These police forces understand that fostering trust between local police and immigrant communities is central to law enforcement’s mission of protecting public safety and reducing crime.

Far from being shields for criminality, these cities recognize that immigrant victims and witnesses will not report crime, and crimes will therefore go unsolved and unpunished if immigrants fear that local police are acting as immigration agents. Federal immigration authorities are still informed of every person arrested and booked into jail. These localities have implemented carefully crafted policies aimed at promoting public safety and have prioritized their police resources to focus on community needs. As explained by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg:

“We all suffer when an immigrant is afraid to tell the police that she has been the victim of a sexual assault or domestic violence … our police officers cannot stop a criminal when they are not aware of his crimes … which leaves him free to do it again … to anyone he chooses. Which means that all of us lose.”

Police chiefs are some of the staunchest defenders of community trust policies, in part because they have proven effective in reducing crime. As noted by Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl, who is testifying before the House Immigration Subcommittee today:

 “Since Dayton adopted these policies and innovative ways of addressing crime problems, our crime rates have significantly declined. In the past three years, serious violent crime has dropped nearly 22 percent while serious property crime has gone down by almost 15 percent.”

When the House votes on H.R. 3009 later today, lawmakers should heed the caution stated by the ACLU and 143 groups against imposing sweeping requirements that would disrupt long-established, effective community-policing policies.

“Public policy should not be made based on a single tragic event or by using the actions of one individual to justify a policy that criminalizes an entire community,” the letter says. “We urge the House to refrain from imposing knee-jerk immigration policy changes based on the alleged actions of one person.”

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Anonymous

Again the ACLU sides with the lawbreakers. The ACLU has blood on their hands for every crime committed by an illegal immigrant.

Anonymous

Jesus Christ, it's ALways THAT. Cut funding, cut funding, cut funding. The only thing they care about is money, not people at all, and they all think they're conTROLling something by cutting funding, cutting funding, cutting funding. It's annoying.
I just wonder which freakin' BILLIONAIRE wants them to do this since they can't even take a p*** without clearing it with a billionaire first. It really IS that degrading - to themselves too, not just us.
I have no sympathy left for them. They decided that the only people on earth they were going to listen to are billionaires; they made their choice of who to find important in this world and I have nothing left to give them via understanding and respect.

Anonymous

Hey idiot, billionaires are not the problem with sanctuary cities, dumbass. The cities are illegal

living In Texas

Wish Steve could live down along the Rio Grande River with his family/love ones and we could see just how safe he would feel. I can tell you not very. The best don't need to come here. Tell me how an increasing illegal alien population helps Chicago?

Anonymous

in california they keep laying the golden brick road from mexico to here. they can get a drivers licence, but what about insurance? i had to provide proof , the other day 3 illegals were at the lodi dmv and they didnt have to show proof of insurance , proof of address. i was born here legally and i have to show it. they got thier licences. it would help in california if the cut federal funding , maybe just maybe these cities like s.f. {which i only live about 80 miles from would have to follow the law. if you look at texas and california and compare the types of immigrants there youll be shocked that california is so gullable that they actully put up with the bs.

Daniel Fuller

How does the decline in crime in cities like Dayton compare with other cities which pursued the opposite policy? Crime has been declining everywhere, regardless of how many people are jailed, to use another touted policy as an example. In fact, up to 90% of the variation in crime rates can be explained by the decline in leaded gasoline use. There is a delayed effect of lead poisoning in children on the rate of violent crime decades later.

"Did removing lead from petrol spark a decline in crime?": http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27067615

Anonymous

Sanchez admitted he was in SanFran largely due to their sanctuary city status. Clearly a factor in Steinle's death.

Anonymous

they're ILLEGAL immigrants and felons that have been deported and came back across the border ILLEGALLY to murder/rape/rob out citizens...why are you trying to protect THEM....shouldn't us citizens deserve some protection from these animals?

Anonymous

The gubmint doesn't care about your safety. Get a gun, protect yourself and stop whining
..

Anonymous

seriously.....where I'm from people are fed up with illegal immigrants....Donald Trump is correct. they do no good for our society. and they bleed the American taxpayers dry....when our legal residents are pushed aside by the government only for a democratic vote.....boo. America is getting tire of this shit....and that's why true American are open carrying firearms today...to put the point across that we are tired of Obama's lawless tirade and ND his sorry ass cabinet

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