A Practical Step Toward Dismantling Unlawful Sanctuary Rules

CIS — In a recent blog posting, my colleague Jessica Vaughan highlighted a Department of Justice Office of Inspector General (DOJ OIG) report finding that state and local governments with sanctuary rules are in violation of federal law by prohibiting employees from communicating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

As Vaughan notes, there are over 300 such sanctuary jurisdictions; and when they are states, such as California, they have a spillover effect because of their impact on county and local government practices as well.

Although DOJ OIG only examined a sampling of 10 jurisdictions due to resource limitations, there is little doubt that the remaining governments are also in violation of the law, 8 U.S.C. Section 1373. One of the commonalities DOJ found in these sanctuary rules and ordinances is that they often engage in throwaway language to the effect that communication is prohibited “except as provided by federal law” or the like – but that the language of this “savings clause” is deliberately ineffectual because absolutely no effort is made to ensure employees know that their right to communicate with immigration agents is, in fact, protected by federal law.

Making the violation even more egregious is the fact that many, probably most, of the offending sanctuary jurisdictions receive federal law enforcement funding – including, incredibly, under a program that disburses monies for “cooperating” with the federal government in identifying alien criminals under the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP).

The belated zeal on the part of the Obama Justice Department in ferreting out these hypocrites who take federal funds in one hand while holding up the other in a “no go” signal to the immigration authorities is thanks primarily to the efforts of a single legislator, Rep. John Culberson , chairman of the subcommittee that oversees the Justice Department’s funding.

Now that it has been established that these jurisdictions are in violation of federal law, I’m hoping that Rep. Culberson will push DOJ to force these scofflaws to take remedial action. One form of such remedial action would to requiring them to post notices in relevant areas of the workplace making known the existence of the federal law. Something like this might be appropriate:

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