WASHINGTON, D.C. – In what could be one of the biggest takeaways from the State of The Union address, President Donald Trump made illegal immigration and so-called “sanctuary cities” – those cities whose laws protect undocumented immigrants from deportation or prosecution – a major focus of his administration’s efforts going into the final year of his current term. In doing so, Trump threw his support behind a bill that would allow those hurt as a result of the policies of sanctuary cities to seek legal recourse.
Trump called upon congress to “immediately” pass the Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act, a bill sponsored by North Carolina Republican Senator Thom Tillis that would enable victims of crimes committed by illegal immigrants to turn around and sue local governments of any city that is identified as a “sanctuary” for undocumented immigrants.
“Tragically, there are many cities in America where radical politicians have chosen to provide sanctuary for these criminal illegal aliens,” Trump said.
In an effort to drive his point home, Trump spoke of Jody Jones of California, whose 51 year-old brother Rocky has been shot and killed on December 17, 2018 by an illegal immigrant who had previously been deported twice.
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“Rocky was at a gas station when this vile criminal fired eight bullets at him from close range, murdering him in cold blood,” Trump said. “Rocky left behind a devoted family, including his brothers who loved him more than anything.”
“Jodi our hearts weep for your loss and we will not rest until you have justice. Senator Thom Tillis has introduced legislation to allow Americans like Jodi to sue sanctuary cities and states when a loved one is hurt or killed as a result of these deadly practices. I ask Congress to pass the Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities act immediately. The United States of America should be a sanctuary for law-abiding Americans, not criminal aliens.”
Trump also spoke about the arrest of undocumented immigrant Reeaz Khan of Guyana, 21, who is accused of sexually assaulting and brutally killing elderly Maria Fuertes in New York on January 10. Kahn, was due for deportation at the time, but NYC officials had declined to turn him over to the feds for that purpose.
“Just 29 days ago, a criminal alien freed by the sanctuary city of New York was charged with the brutal rape and murder of a 92-year-old woman,” Trump said. “The killer had been previously arrested for assault, but under New York’s sanctuary policies, he was set free. If the city had honored ICE’s detainer request, his victim would be alive today.”
Trump also openly criticized states he identified as containing “sanctuaries,” for illegal immigrants, including California – a full-fledged sanctuary state whose policies Trump blamed Jones’ death on – and New York, which has designated “sanctuary zones” such as New York City, Albany, and Ithaca, where detained arrestees who are in the county illegally are not turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for deportation. Indeed, Albany has a city code in place that does not call for local police to inquire about a suspected criminal’s citizenship or immigration status.
“In sanctuary cities, local officials order police to release dangerous criminal aliens to prey upon the public, instead of handing them over to ICE to be safely removed.” adding later, “If you come illegally, you will now be promptly removed from our country.”
Trump also lauded the efforts of ICE, and called for more cooperation between the organization’s agents and U.S. cities and states. According to figures released by the White House, in 2019 ICE agents arrested more than 120,000 criminal undocumented immigrants allegedly responsible for nearly 2,000 homicides, over 5,000 sexual assaults, more than 10,000 burglaries, and in excess of 45,000 assaults.
The Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act was introduced into Congress on July 9, 2019. It will typically be considered by committee next before it is possibly sent on to the House or Senate as a whole. However, according to Skopos Labs – a platform that predicts the impacts of policy-making on companies and financial markets – the bill currently only has a 3 percent chance of being enacted, especially in the currently Democrat-controlled congress.