Department of Homeland Security Sec. Jeh Johnson’s recent criticisms of sanctuary city policies ring hollow given the Obama administration’s actions enabling such policies, according to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).
“While I agree that sanctuary city policies are unacceptable, it’s hypocritical for Secretary Johnson to criticize sanctuary cities while at the same time refusing to take the steps necessary to end these reckless policies,” Goodlatte said Wednesday in reaction to comments Johnson made a day earlier.
Speaking at The Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco on Tuesday, according to Fox News, Johnson expressed frustration at sanctuary city policies that prevent local authorities from cooperating with federal immigration officials.
“It is counterproductive to public safety to have this level of resistance to working with our immigration enforcement personnel,” he said according to Fox News.
“It is simply in my judgment not acceptable to have no policy of cooperation with immigration enforcement. We’re all interested in getting criminals off the streets,” he added.
According to Goodlatte, the Department of Homeland Security under President Obama has “emboldened” localities to adopt sanctuary city policies by allowing cooperation with federal officials to be optional.
“Additionally, the Administration’s so-called enforcement priorities allow millions of unlawful and criminal aliens to evade the law and stay in the U.S.,” the Virginia lawmaker said. “As a result of both sanctuary city policies and the Obama Administration’s lack of immigration enforcement, criminal aliens continue to be released into our communities and threaten public safety.”
Johnson made his comments in San Francisco where in July, Kathryn Steinle was shot dead, allegedly by a multiple-deportee illegal immigrant with a long rap sheet. Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez had been released from custody weeks earlier after San Francisco law enforcement ignored a detainer request from federal immigration authorities.
Goodlatte recalled the murder, saying that Steinle was the victim of “irresponsible policies.”
“Officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement informed the House Judiciary Committee that they would likely have turned Steinle’s murderer, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, over to San Francisco authorities had they had him in custody first, despite knowing that the city would not honor a detainer to return him to ICE custody,” Goodlatte said.
“San Francisco’s sanctuary policy and ICE’s complicit attitude toward non-compliance by sanctuary cities were the catalyst for this needless tragedy. Even if Sanchez was returned to ICE, there is no guarantee that he would have been removed because of the agency’s history of releasing known felons in its custody,” he added.
Johnson has said he does not believe immigration detainers should be mandatory, a position, Goodlatte argued, the DHS secretary should consider changing given his recent comments.
“If Secretary Johnson is truly committed to ending dangerous sanctuary city policies, he must work with Congress to ensure federal immigration detainers are mandatory and sanction states and cities that continue to stonewall federal immigration enforcement efforts. Without such action, Secretary Johnson’s words are all bark and no bite,” Goodlatte concluded.