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Wednesday, May 22, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Sanctuary Cities Resist Plans for Conscripted Deportation Force

Described as a “blueprint for mass deportation,” the Department of Homeland Security’s memos describing implementation of President Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration depends on using local law enforcement as a “force multiplier.”

MANHATTAN (CN) – Described as a “blueprint for mass deportation,” the Department of Homeland Security’s memos describing implementation of President Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration depends on using local law enforcement as a “force multiplier.”

But that scheme is already encountering resistance from the jurisdictions around the country counting themselves among the “sanctuary cities."

“President Trump does not have the legal authority to unilaterally transform state and local police officers into federal immigration enforcement agents,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement on Wednesday.

As a state representative, Schneiderman’s remarks relate policies not only for New York City, but also those of Rochester, Syracuse and others.

“As the legal guidance issued by my office in January makes clear, state and local law enforcement agencies cannot be forced to participate in President Trump’s destructive and ill-advised deportation policies,” he added.

Schneiderman’s comments came a day after the release of two documents outlining how immigration officials plan to implement Trump’s executive orders from last month on how he would fulfill his vision on immigration from the campaign trail.

These policies include a plan to finish construction on a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border, hire 5,000 more border patrol agents, and create a weekly list of crimes supposedly committed by undocumented immigrants.

That program, dubbed Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE), paints a picture of undocumented immigrants as a danger to public safety, a myth repeatedly contradicted by the evidence.

The New York Times highlighted research from the Cato Institute and other groups finding that undocumented immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than citizens born in the United States.

Testing what he called the “Trump Hypothesis,” a lecturer at Japan’s Nayoga University found that “no evidence links Mexican or undocumented Mexican immigrants specifically to violent or drug-related crime,” in an article published in the peer-reviewed journal Social Science Quarterly.

The Department of Homeland Security’s memos still advance the discredited theory.

“Criminal aliens routinely victimize Americans and other legal residents,” the memo states, in a section on VOICE.

The department’s memos were released in two parts: “Implementing the President’s Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements Policies,” totaling 13 pages, and “Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest,” at six pages.

Together, they form a “blueprint for mass deportation like we’ve never seen,” according to The National Immigration Law Center’s executive director Marielena Hincapié.

In a blistering statement, Hincapié said the department’s plan flies in the face of “decades of guidance and best practice intended to help protect vulnerable populations.”

In particular, Trump’s policies waive former President Barack Obama’s prioritization on undocumented immigrants convicted of crimes. The department’s memo leaves no uncertainty: “[A]ll existing conflicting directives, memoranda, or field guidance regarding the enforcement of our immigration laws and priorities for removal are hereby immediately rescinded – to the extent of the conflict – including, but not limited to, the Nov. 20, 2014, memoranda entitled ‘Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants,’ and ‘Secure Communities.’”

Obama’s signature program, Secure Communities itself was excoriated by immigration groups for relying on an error-prone fingerprinting database that divided families. The program was one of the reasons Obama gained the reputation among some activists as “Deporter-in-Chief.”

Trump eliminates many of the safeguards embedded in the program, and ratchets up the deportation efforts to new heights.

“If unhindered, they will wreak havoc on our economy, our communities, and our families,” Hincapié said. “President Trump is governing by fear and not by what is best for the American people.”

Categories / Government, Politics

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