On Tuesday, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen informed lawmakers that the agency requested that federal prosecutors examine options for filing criminal charges against sanctuary city leaders for not cooperating with federal immigration authorities. Nielsen spoke with the Senate Judiciary Committee, saying, “The Department of Justice is reviewing what avenues may be available.”
She also supported the statement by adding that policies associated with sanctuary cities were “putting my [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] officers at risk.”
On January 1, the state of California’s sanctuary law, which came under fire by federal immigration authorities for putting law enforcement officers at risk, went into effect.
Tom Homan, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), has previously stated that these leaders should be held “personally accountable” for any crimes committed by illegal immigrants, according to a report by Fox News.
“We’ve got to start charging some of these politicians with crimes,” said Homan.
President Donald Trump has regularly spoken out against the actions of sanctuary cities, including a tweet, which reads: “Hard to believe that the Democrats, who have gone so far LEFT that they are no longer recognizable, are fighting so hard for Sanctuary crime.”
Trump has also vowed to withhold certain federal funds from cities that refuse to comply, including not giving federal immigration authorities access to area jails or failing to provide notice when a person who is illegally in the country is about to be released.
However, a federal judge blocked an effort by the DOJ is halt funding to sanctuary cities.
A bill was also introduced in Congress last month that attempted to address the elected officials leading sanctuary cities. Rep. Todd Rokita brought forth proposed legislation that looked to target such leadership with fines and potentially jail time.
“Politicians don’t get to pick and choose what laws to comply with,” said Rokita. “Americans are dying because politicians sworn to uphold the law refuse to do so.”
Many sanctuary city leaders are taking the threats of prosecution in stride.
“I gotta laugh,” said Mayor Dan Rivera of Lawrence, Massachusetts. “With all the bad guys out there, to be coming after a war vet is foolish.”
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh asserted that the city was going to maintain its current stance, saying, “We are a city that values and respects immigrants, and Boston will keep standing by its immigrant community.”