Under the radar until a horrific event, Sen. David Vitter’s largely lonely crusade to compel cities to put public safety before ideology now may play a visible role in the campaign for Louisiana governor this year.
Recently, a woman in San Francisco was killed seemingly randomly allegedly by an illegal alien with a long rap sheet of violent crime, deported five times. But he had been under city detention fewer than three months previously – except that San Francisco, as part of the “sanctuary movement,” long ago began to refuse to forward information about illegal immigrants it detains to the federal government, even though legally local law enforcement agencies must do so. Following the law enables the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency to take custody of and deport them.
It’s no accident that “sanctuary cities,” or those like San Francisco with an official policy of law enforcement not asking about citizenship status, are larger cities with higher proportions of immigrants that have higher crime rates. Given that population studies of the nation’s jails show these contain disproportionately more non-citizens than their incidence in the general population, and that a sample of diverse local jurisdictions reveals the proportion of illegal aliens jailed is much higher than their estimated population proportion, it’s likely that sanctuary cities (which would not keep citizenship statistics) have even higher and more disproportionate numbers of illegal aliens imprisoned. While the valid data about this are uncoordinated, overall they point to increased numbers of illegal aliens elevate criminal activity.
Simply, the policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” of sanctuary cities likely decreases public safety. This has concerned Vitter as a federal lawmaker since 2007, where since on an annual basis he has introduced legislation to put more teeth into enforcing the law by withholding some law enforcement federal grants to cities with such policies. Regrettably, with Democrats in control of the Senate (the overwhelming bulk of sanctuary cities have been governed by Democrats for extended periods), his various bills and amendments haven’t seen the light of day.
But if Vitter succeeds in his campaign to win the governorship, it should not be difficult for him to adjust his priorities to pertain to this smaller corner of the country. Currently, only one city holds itself out as following sanctuary policies, New Orleans. As governor, Vitter can back a law withholding, at the very least, Louisiana state law enforcement grants to local governments with law enforcement agencies that do not follow the federal Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act or the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act that require them to cooperate with ICE. That would have cost New Orleans over $600,000 for 2015 – to be sure, not a large amount where the police department is budgeted for $140 million, but given the strapped nature of city government with the myriad consent decrees and lawsuits it faces concerning policing and its personnel and unfavorable crime trends past and present, it would feel every cent of that if denied. Or, to pack more punch, a bill could increase the latitude of state funding affected.
Yet it should not be just Vitter’s responsibility; all gubernatorial candidates should address the issue by committing to a similar preference. And during the course of the campaign this question about whether they support a measure to encourage compliance with federal law should be posed to them by the media or anybody else able to query them. Nor should candidates for governor have all the fun; legislative candidates also should commit when in office to legislation to discourage local governments from permitting sanctuary policies.
It may be trendy for ideologues in power to assert their solidarity with illegal aliens over whatever presumed travails they face them through instituting a sanctuary policy, but irresponsibility of this nature cannot be afforded by the citizenry that suffers the consequences of such folly. Louisiana’s candidates for governor and the Legislature this year should be vetted on this issue, and those elected should follow Vitter’s past lead.