Calif. ini­tia­tive would ban sanc­tu­ary

Bal­lot drive gets boost in elec­tions

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DI­NAN

A Cal­i­for­nia group has launched a bal­lot ini­tia­tive to elim­i­nate sanc­tu­ary ci­ties, hop­ing to take power away from state and lo­cal law­mak­ers who have banned their po­lice and sher­iff’s deputies from co­op­er­at­ing with fed­eral de­por­ta­tion author­i­ties.

Their bal­lot drive got a boost Tues­day when San Fran­cisco’s “sanc­tu­ary sher­iff” lost his re-elec­tion bid, de­feated in large part be­cause of his han­dling of the re­lease this year of an il­le­gal im­mi­grant who now stands ac­cused of killing a woman walk­ing on the city water­front with her fa­ther.

“This should be a warn­ing sign to elected of­fi­cials in other sanc­tu­ary ci­ties that the ma­jor­ity are op­posed to their re­fus­ing to co­op­er­ate with fed­eral author­i­ties,” said Ted Hil­ton, the man be­hind the bal­lot ini­tia­tive.

Sher­iff Ross Mirkarimi be­came just the third San Fran­cisco sher­iff to lose a re-elec­tion af­ter he re­fused to re­scind his gag or­der pre­vent­ing his deputies from talk­ing with fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion author­i­ties.

His loss re­ver­ber­ated back in Wash­ing­ton, where Sen. Ted Cruz took to the Sen­ate floor to try to force pas­sage of his bill im­pos­ing manda­tory fed­eral min­i­mum sen­tences on il­le­gal im­mi­grants who are de­ported but try to sneak back into the U.S. That bill is known as “Kate’s Law,” named af­ter Kathryn Steinle, the woman author­i­ties say was killed by Juan Fran­cisco Lopez-Sanchez af­ter he was re­leased un­der the sher­iff’s pol­icy.

“This ought to be a clear choice: With whom do you stand? Do you stand with vi­o­lent crim­i­nal il­le­gal aliens, or do you stand with Amer­i­can cit­i­zens?” Mr. Cruz said.

But Mi­nor­ity Leader Harry Reid blocked the Texan’s ef­forts, say­ing manda­tory sen­tences would be too ex­pen­sive, forc­ing the gov­ern­ment to build 20,000 more pri­son beds. Mr. Reid also doubted crim­i­nal penal­ties would stop po­ten­tial il­le­gal im­mi­grants from mak­ing the trip.

Democrats have ral­lied around sanc­tu­ary ci­ties, say­ing they should have the right to refuse to co­op­er­ate with fed­eral agents when it comes to who gets de­ported. Democrats ar­gue that hav­ing lo­cal po­lice co­op­er­ate fright­ens even le­gal im­mi­grants, who then balk at call­ing the po­lice to re­port se­ri­ous crimes — leav­ing com­mu­ni­ties less safe.

Ev­i­dence is sketchy on both sides of the ar­gu­ment.

But that hasn’t stopped the is­sue from be­com­ing a po­lit­i­cal hot potato.

Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Don­ald Trump helped el­e­vate sanc­tu­ary ci­ties to a na­tional de­bate in the wake of Steinle’s killing, call­ing it proof of his claim that Mex­ico sends some of its most dan­ger­ous cit­i­zens to the U.S.

The is­sue has also been heated in Cal­i­for­nia, where there have been sev­eral high-pro­file killings at­trib­uted to il­le­gal im­mi­grants pro­tected by sanc­tu­ary poli­cies. The state leg­is­la­ture and Gov. Jerry Brown last year en­acted the Trust Act, which lim­ited the types of co­op­er­a­tion lo­cal po­lice and sher­iffs could have with U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment agents.

Sher­iff Mirkarimi’s pol­icy went even fur­ther than the Trust Act, how­ever, im­pos­ing a vir­tual ban on communicat­ions.

Mr. Hil­ton’s bal­lot ini­tia­tive would ef­fec­tively over­turn the Trust Act, re­quir­ing po­lice to no­tify fed­eral author­i­ties ev­ery time they en­counter an il­le­gal im­mi­grant. Fed­eral agents could still refuse to de­port them, but the state would have done its part.

State and lo­cal author­i­ties would also be re­quired to com­ply with fed­eral agents’ re­quests to be no­ti­fied when an im­mi­grant wanted by ICE is to be re­leased, and to honor “de­tainer” re­quests ask­ing that im­mi­grants be held for pickup.

Mr. Hil­ton said he crafted the ini­tia­tive based on parts of an Ari­zona law al­ready up­held by the Supreme Court and on leg­is­la­tion pend­ing in the U.S. House and Sen­ate, so he said it’s a solid pro­posal.

The ini­tia­tive is in the com­ment pe­riod, and then he’ll have five months next year to gather the more than 360,000 sig­na­tures needed to earn a place on the bal­lot. Be­cause of dou­ble-sign­ers and in­valid sig­na­tures, he’ll prob­a­bly need to get more than 500,000 sig­na­tures just to be safe.

“The is­sue has come to the fore­front. I was try­ing to do it in 2012 — tim­ing wasn’t right, I was ahead of my time. Now it’s got the at­ten­tion it de­served,” he said.

Polling ear­lier this fall from the In­sti­tute of Gov­ern­men­tal Stud­ies at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley found both Repub­li­cans and Democrats op­posed sanc­tu­ary city poli­cies at rates top­ping 70 per­cent.

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