Mar 312017
 

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Thomas L. Knapp…….

In a surprise White House appearance on March 27, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced his intent to make America’s cities less safe and more vulnerable to crime unless he gets his way.

He didn’t say it quite like that, of course. In fact, he asserted the opposite, accusing so-called “sanctuary cities” of “mak[ing] our nation less safe by putting dangerous criminals back on the streets” and conditioning future grants from the US Department of Justice’s Office of Justice on certification by the recipient state and local governments that they are not “sanctuary” jurisdictions.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think the federal government should be handing out money and equipment (especially military equipment) to state and local police departments and court systems in the first place. Such gifts always come with strings attached, as Sessions is demonstrating with this stand. Better to keep local law enforcement locally funded and locally controlled.

That said, Sessions and his department presumably believe that the money in question (recent examples include grants for “Smart Policing,” police body cameras, and sexual assault kits) makes communities safer. That’s why the money gets handed out, at least in theory.

If Sessions does believe that his grants help keep us safe, then he’s essentially threatening to increase the likelihood that you or I will be assaulted, raped, mugged or murdered unless our local, county and state governments bend to his will.

That’s not very nice, Jeff. In fact, it’s the opposite of your job as Attorney General. As is supporting the very idea of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement “detainers.”

I happen to live in a “sanctuary county.” In 2015, Alachua County, Florida Sheriff Sadie Darnell set forth her department’s policy, which seems eminently reasonable: The department will not honor ICE “detainers” unless they’re accompanied by judicial orders or warrants.

Frankly, that should be the bottom line for every law enforcement agency in the country. When it comes to keeping someone in a cage who would otherwise be free to go, “because ICE wants him” isn’t good enough. The US Constitution is clear: “No person shall … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

If federal law enforcement officers can’t even be bothered to see a judge and get an arrest warrant, they shouldn’t be asking local law enforcement to hold someone for them, nor should Jeff Sessions be threatening the rest of us over it.

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Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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Thomas L. Knapp
Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.
 March 31, 2017  Posted by at 12:52 am Issue #212, Thomas L. Knapp  Add comments

  6 Responses to “Sanctuary Cities and DoJ Funding: The Hypocrisy of Jeff Sessions”

  1. Thomas, could you do us all a favor and point out a single specific instances when a US citizen was held unconstitutionally? Yes, we could go back and forth about the inherent constitutional rights people have simply being physically present in the USA, but it is incumbent upon the alien, whether illegal or not, to prove that they are legally present in the USA. That’s something that goes with the burden of being present in a country where you do not hold citizenship.

    • Ben,

      A single specific instance when a US citizen was held unconstitutionally? How about two? Aaron Burr (held incommunicado by the US military without charge for months on Thomas Jefferson’s orders) and Chelsea Manning (held for far beyond any reasonable facsimile of the Constitution’s “speedy trial” requirement as well as far beyond the hard legal limit in the Manual of Courts Martial for same — the judge just ruled that the law didn’t matter in her case).

      I suspect, however, that you are referring specifically to ICE “detainers” and to people accused of being “illegal immigrants” (a term without meaning since the US Constitution forbids the federal government to regulate immigration). In which case:

      The Constitution is clear. The requirements for warrants, etc. do not apply to “US citizens,” they apply to “persons.” If you don’t believe me, ask former US Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who wrote extensively on the meaning of the term in his opinion in US v. Verdugo-Urquidez.

      In ALL cases, it is incumbent upon law enforcement to establish probable cause for detention, not on the prospective detainee to prove the contrary.

  2. Thomas, do you have a thing for traitors? Aaron Burr was legally arrested and held for treason:

    http://www.historytoday.com/richard-cavendish/aaron-burr-arrested-treason

    Private Manning is a traitor convicted by court-martial in July 2013 of violations of the Espionage Act and other offenses. Private Manning was subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice at the time of arrest. Constitutional rights for members of the military aren’t the same as those for civilians.

    The probable cause for detention of persons held by ICE is the uncertainty of an individual’s immigration/citizenship status. Have you tried to renew your drivers license in the past couple years? A sovereign state has not only the right, but the obligation, to ensure that all those residing within its borders are legally there.

  3. “Private Manning is a traitor”

    No, Manning is not a traitor. Treason has a constitutional definition under which it is legally impossible for her to have been one (because it’s been legally impossible to commit treason at all times during which she has been alive).

    “Private Manning was subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice at the time of arrest. Constitutional rights for members of the military aren’t the same as those for civilians.”

    Actually they are, but that’s beside the point — I specifically referenced the ruling legal standard, the Manual of Courts Martial. The MCM places a hard, non-negotiable, non-waiveable limit on how long the military has to try you once you’re arrested. The military blew threw that limit, then the trial judge just said “oh, but since you want her really, really REALLY bad, fuck the law, do whatever you want.”

    “The probable cause for detention of persons held by ICE is the uncertainty of an individual’s immigration/citizenship status.”

    Uncertainty is not probable cause of anything.

    “Have you tried to renew your drivers license in the past couple years? A sovereign state has not only the right, but the obligation, to ensure that all those residing within its borders are legally there.”

    Whether or not someone is legally in a state is entirely a matter of that state’s judgment — the US Constitution says the federal government doesn’t get to regulate immigration.

  4. Thomas, probable cause is used every day in law enforcement. It’s completely legal and constitutional, but there’s no need to continue this thread. You’ve drank the kool aid, and no argument will change your misinformed opinion.

    • Yes, probable cause is used every day in law enforcement. And for a prisoner to be held for another agency, that probable cause is expressed as a warrant or judicial order.

      You don’t have to like the facts. Facts are facts whether you like them or not.