By now many of us know what a declined detainer is, but how you define what it means depends on how you feel about law enforcement. Democrats might say that a declined detainer is how cities prevent federal authorities from persecuting immigrants. Republicans would more likely call it a dangerous sanctuary city policy of letting the bad guys go before ICE can nab them. Either way, it’s hard to dispute that we don’t want the individuals in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s monthly Declined Detainer Outcome Report mixing with law-abiding citizens.
Why would you even consider not holding these criminals for the feds?
We were misled about public safety
Public safety was one of former DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson’s arguments for stepping up border security:
Our borders cannot be open to illegal migration. We must, therefore, enforce the immigration laws consistent with our priorities. Those priorities are public safety and border security. Specifically, we prioritize the deportation of undocumented immigrants who are convicted of serious crimes and those apprehended at the border attempting to enter the country illegally.1
Public safety was the reason behind the Obama administration’s “priority enforcement” policy. The goal was getting criminal aliens off the streets. This made it hard to swallow the parallel practice of tolerating sanctuary cities.
Is ignoring the immigration status of criminals who many of us would prefer be removed really in the best interest of public safety? There wasn’t a lot the public who was supposed to be kept safe could do about it. The Justice Department, Homeland Security, and the White House not only failed to criticize illegal immigrant sanctuaries, they kept law enforcement tied up in knots by coming down hard on police departments nationwide over allegations of profiling, racial discrimination, and unnecessary use of force.
ICE detainers: two things change
By all appearances little has changed with President Trump, DHS Secretary John Kelly, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions now in charge of the criminal immigrant problem. ICE tells us:
DHS has not retreated from its position that detainers serve as a legally-authorized request, upon which a law enforcement agency may rely, to continue to maintain custody of the alien for up to 48 hours so that ICE may assume custody for removal purposes.2
There are two big differences. Sessions sounds serious about dealing with cities that protect illegal immigrants by enforcing what he calls a “common-sense requirement” to get rid of criminal aliens.3 Second, we now have a very public Declined Detainer Outcome Report so we know where the bad guys are being protected.
Declined Detainer Outcome Report: a scary list of crimes
The lists of crimes in the Declined Detainer Outcome Reports4 are impressive. Offenses cover everything from assault to burglary, sex offenses against children, robbery, identity theft, and homicide.
Despite the scary implications of letting these people loose, there is some good news:
As further noted in Section IV, ICE field offices have been instructed to resume issuing detainers on all removable aliens in a LEA’s [law enforcement agencies] custody regardless of prior non-cooperation. As a result, the number of issued detainers will increase over the next several reporting periods.5
Hopefully that also means less federal money for cities so intent on not discriminating against illegal immigrants that making a point is more important than protecting the public. Sessions is right. When a show of liberal public defiance collides with protecting law-abiding citizens the feds need to step in, or in this case start holding back.
Footnotes and photo credit
1. “Statement by Secretary Johnson On Southwest Border Security.” Homeland Security. November 10, 2016. https://www.dhs.gov/news/2016/11/10/statement-secretary-johnson-southwest-border-security, retrieved March 29, 2017.
2. “Declined Detainer Outcome Report.” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. https://www.ice.gov/declined-detainer-outcome-report#wcm-survey-target-id, retrieved March 29, 2017.
3. “Attorney General Jeff Sessions Delivers Remarks on Sanctuary Jurisdictions.” Department of Justice. March 27, 2017. https://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/attorney-general-jeff-sessions-delivers-remarks-sanctuary-jurisdictions, retrieved March 29, 2017.
4. “Declined Detainer Outcome Report. Archived Reports.” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. https://www.ice.gov/declined-detainer-outcome-report#wcm-survey-target-id, retrieved March 29, 2017.
5. Enforcement and Removal Operations. “Weekly Declined Detainer Outcome Report. For Recorded Declined Detainers Jan. 28 – Feb. 3, 2017.” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.” https://www.ice.gov/doclib/ddor/ddor2017_01-28to02-03.pdf, retrieved March 29, 2017.
Photo: “248 arrested in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Delaware, during ICE operation targeting criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants and other immigration violators.” U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. March 14, 2017. Retrieved from https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/248-arrested-pennsylvania-west-virginia-and-delaware-during-ice-operation-targeting on March 29, 2017.