Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) addressed the issue of "sanctuary cities" harboring illegal immigrants, a much-debated topic over the last two weeks due to multiple crimes involving previously charged and deported immigrants, including the senseless killing of a woman in San Francisco by a Mexican national who had been deported five times and been charged with multiple felonies.
Speaking with The Daily Caller Tuesday, Sessions said it was possible that city officials who insist on defying federal immigration laws by harboring illegal immigrant criminals "could be charged" with a crime.
"I guess you could make it a crime. I'm not aware that it is a crime, but they could be charged. There may be something in the code," Sessions told The DC.
"To me, it’s just unthinkable — as United States attorney I had a bunch of cities and every day holds are filed. So many criminals have committed crimes in multiple jurisdictions."
San Francisco has been a sanctuary city for decades, only holding illegal immigrants with major violent convictions. The DC notes that Sanchez, while having a record with multiple felonies, had "no major violent crime convictions in recent years," so was allowed by the city to roam free illegally. San Francisco has recently restricted its enforcement of federal law even further, the city's board of supervisors passing a law in 2013 restricting placement of immigrants in federal immigration detainers and holds, which other cities have imitated.
Sessions decried this practice of disregarding federal detainers and hold requests, saying it's time Congress forced cities to comply:
"This disregarding of detainers and releasing persons that ICE has put a hold on — it goes against all traditions of law enforcement. Laws and courtesies within departments — if you have somebody charged with a crime in one city, you hold them until you complete your business with them," Sessions said.
"The other city wants to charge them with an important crime files a detainer and when you’re finished, they’re sent to the next one to face the charges there. They’re not released," he added noting that another city, which may be looking for the fugitive will have to go look for the criminal again and spend thousands doing so, while the fugitive may "murder somebody in the interim."
Sessions explained, "So what was happening was, ICE authorities were filing detainers and sanctuary cities were saying, 'We're not gonna honor them. They finished paying for the crime they committed in our city — we’ve released them.'"
Sessions believes it is time for Congress to say to cities and counties that if they do not cooperate with Congress as well as federal law enforcement they should not get federal money from Washington.