Thirteen reasons "sanctuary" is wrong for Colorado

(Guest Column by Cicero) State Rep. Dave Williams (R-Colorado Springs) made national news this winter with his bill to stop "sanctuary" policies shielding illegal immigrants from law enforcement in Colorado.  Majority Democrats killed HB-1134 in committee on Feb. 22, but the issue lives on.  

Lawmakers in several other states are drafting similar legislation, and there is talk of a stop-sanctuary bill running in the GOP-controlled Colorado Senate before the session ends in May. Is this an idea whose time has come?  Here are a baker's dozen reasons to say yes.

1.       Federal courts have consistently ruled, most recently in the 2012 Arizona v. United States case, that federal immigration law cannot be superseded or obstructed by state laws or local ordinances:  The United States does not have 50 separate immigration codes or 89,000 different immigration policies in each of the nation’s municipalities.

2.       The “nullification” of federal law by local officials is not a practice to be encouraged or tolerated.  We are “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

3.       In July of 2016, the Obama Department of Justice issued a Memorandum announcing that beginning in FY2017, applications for federal grant funds must include a “certification of compliance” with immigration laws, as stated in 8 U.S.C. 1373: No certification, no funding.

4.       Every poll on the issue shows that voters oppose sanctuary policies by 70%-80% majorities. Even a UC-Berkeley poll of California voters showed 76% of Californians opposed.

5.       Sanctuary city policies do not protect the “immigrant community,” they protect criminal aliens.  Federal immigration agents can and do conduct worksite inspections and other enforcement actions despite “sanctuary” declarations, which protect only criminal aliens and deportable aliens who have exhausted all rights of appeal in federal immigration courts.  

6.       A 2005 GAO report revealed that the 55,322 illegal immigrants then in federal and state jails had been arrested a total of 459,614 times and had committed almost 700,000 criminal offenses—about 13 offenses each. That translates in Colorado to over 85,000 crimes committed by over 6,600 criminal aliens in state prisons and local jails in 2015.

7.       Scoring points through divisive identity politics is poor compensation to Coloradans for the likely loss of millions in federal funds, not to mention the costs of criminal activity.

8.       Although federal immigration law for decades has permitted deportation based on many classes of criminal activity, the Trump administration’s announced targets for deportation are criminal alien felons, not all criminal aliens -- and not 11.3 million illegal aliens.

9.       The Trump White House and DHS have explicitly excluded from new enforcement actions the approximately 1.5 million DACA and DAPA aliens who have temporary legal status. The rights and legal options available to DACA and DAPA individuals are policy issues totally separate from the status of illegal “sanctuary” cities. The truth is, DACA and DAPA aliens are not gaining additional protections by residing in “sanctuary” jurisdictions.

10.    The 2016 “SCAAP Report” from the Colorado Department of Corrections documents 2,039 criminal alien felons in the state prison system, all of whom are subject to deportation upon release.  Ending sanctuary policies statewide will facilitate the deportation of convicted criminal alien felons, whether they are released from the state prison system or local jails.

11.    Colorado’s reputation as a sanctuary state serves to attract a higher percentage of criminal aliens than our 1.8% share of the nation’s population or our share of the nation’s 11.3 million illegal aliens.  While the size of Colorado’s state prison population ranks only 23rd in the nation, our state prisons’ criminal alien population ranks 9th in the nation.

12.    Colorado’s outlay of over $140 million annually for incarcerating criminal aliens can be reduced substantially if more criminal aliens are deported or placed in federal custody.

13.    When it comes to Colorado’s reputation as a “welcoming community,” which state does Colorado want to resemble more—our neighbors in the Midwest and Mountain West-- or “sanctuary state” California, which now has more criminal aliens in its jails and prisons than graduate students enrolled in the 10-campus University of California system?