Attorney General William Barr told the nation’s sheriffs earlier this week that “sanctuary” policies adopted by state and local political leaders to shield illegal immigrants from federal agents endangers Americans.
In addition, Barr told the National Sheriffs’ Association on Monday, that such laws were illegal and unconstitutional.
“Let us state the reality upfront and as clearly as possible: When we are talking about sanctuary cities, we are talking about policies that are designed to allow criminal aliens to escape,” he said.
“These policies are not about people who came to our country illegally but have otherwise been peaceful and productive members of society,” Barr continued.
“Their express purpose is to shelter aliens whom local law enforcement has already arrested for other crimes. This is neither lawful nor sensible,” he said. “It is not lawful because the Constitution vests the federal government with the sole authority to make and enforce immigration law.”
The Justice Department has sued the states of California and New Jersey, as well as King County, Wash. — where Seattle is located — over their sanctuary policies.
Specifically, the policies forbid local law enforcement officials from cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who are charged with identifying and removing illegal immigrants from the U.S.
ICE agents largely focus on removal of illegal immigrants who have been charged with or convicted of crimes.
Sanctuary states are also directing that foreign migrants be given shorter jail sentences than Americans so the migrants do not get deported.
“We are meticulously reviewing the actions of certain district attorneys who have adopted policies of charging foreign nationals with lesser offenses for the express purpose of avoiding the federal immigration consequences of those nationals’ criminal conduct,” Barr told the gathering.
“In pursuing their personal ambitions and misguided notions of equal justice, these district attorneys are systematically violating the rule of law and may even be unlawfully discriminating against American citizens,” he said.