ICE is raiding sanctuary cities as revenge, reports say
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents conducted raids in retaliation against at least one sanctuary city that declined to cooperate with federal immigration laws, a federal judge determined. New reports indicate it might be more widespread than just his city.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Austin said in an immigration hearing Monday that the ICE carried out city-wide raids in Austin, TX that netted more than 50 people at the end of January to retaliate against the local sheriff’s department, which instituted a policy to limit cooperation with federal immigration law.
CNN, citing a senior US immigration official, reports Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were also instructed to focus their efforts on sanctuary cities in general.
ICE denies focusing specifically on sanctuary cities.
“Claims the agency is targeting uncooperative jurisdictions apart from normal operations are inaccurate,” said Danielle Bennett, a spokesperson for ICE. “That said, because of these jurisdictions’ uncooperative posture, a significant number of criminal aliens, including some with a history of serious offenses, have been released into these communities rather than being turned over to ICE. The agency’s pursuit of these individuals is motivated solely by our commitment to promote public safety.”
More than 100 cities nationwide – including Austin, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, – have “sanctuary” status, meaning that they don’t enforce federal immigration law unless an undocumented individual commits an especially heinous crime.
President Donald Trump vowed to punish sanctuary cities in a January executive order by withholding federal funding from jurisdictions that continue to affirm sanctuary status. Ten of the country’s largest cities stand to lose a combined $2.27 billion, according to a Reuters analysis of federal funds.
But many sanctuaries are standing strong. More than thirty-four cities and counties, including Los Angeles, Austin, Chicago, Denver and St Paul, Minnesota, have signed onto an amicus brief challenging the constitutionality of Trump’s threat to withhold federal funding in retaliation for their sanctuary status. The suit, filed in the Northern District of California, asks for a nationwide injunction on Trump’s executive order.