CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES — At a House appropriations hearing yesterday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that her department has agreed to begin enforcing federal law against sanctuary policies that obstruct communication and cooperation with federal immigration authorities. Lynch’s announcement is the result of pressure applied by Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas), who chairs the subcommittee that controls the budget for the Department of Justice. Under his plan, state and local jurisdictions maintaining sanctuary policies that violate federal law now risk losing federal funds — unless they stop protecting criminal aliens.
Sanctuary policies are a significant public safety problem and also make it more difficult for ICE to deport aliens who get arrested for state and local crimes. Since January 2014, more than 15,000 criminal aliens that ICE was seeking to deport have been released back to the streets instead due to sanctuary policies. According to information I obtained through a FOIA request, most of these offenders had prior arrests, and one-fourth were already felons. After being freed, nearly one-fourth were again arrested for new crimes within a short period of time. The disclosure of this information last July, together with several widely publicized reports of Americans killed by illegal aliens who had been released by sanctuary jurisdictions, prompted Culberson to take action.