President Trump’s reelection campaign is heating up, and with it is his campaign against illegal immigration. Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Matthew Albence last week announced that more agency officers will be sent to “sanctuary” cities that are defying federal efforts to prosecute and deport immigrants who are in this country without permission.
Albence didn’t give details on the deployment, such as how many officers were being deployed and where, or what they would do when they got there, nor what constitutes defiance. He did say that the officers would have special tactical training to deal with violent criminals, and he complained that cities were releasing criminal immigrants into society instead of handing them over to federal authorities.
One anonymous immigration official told The Associated Press the deployment would include major cities such as Boston, Chicago, New York City and San Francisco. It’s unknown if any other cities will be targeted.
Nor do we know if the focus will be on self-declared sanctuary cities; those are few and Lima isn’t one of them, contrary to what some Web sites proclaim.
“Sanctuary” is a misnomer, as to our knowledge no U.S. city is actually providing protection for immigrants against law enforcement officers. What is known is that many law enforcement officials and legal experts across the country raised concerns about the federal government’s request that local officials enforce federal immigration laws. Some said local officers only have jurisdiction authority to enforce local laws and ordinances. Others worried that immigrants would not report crimes or suspicious activity if they feared they’d be questioned about their immigration status, even if they were here legally. That, the officials said, would impede law enforcement efforts and compromise public safety.
Some U.S. cities, citing these concerns and others, have said they will not ask their police departments to ask people about their nationality or immigration status.
To our knowledge, no city, town or village in Ohio has done so.
It’s possible that last week’s announcement is merely a campaign tactic to raise support. However, in the absence of more information, we hope — and we expect — that any new initiative respects local governments and doesn’t interfere with their agencies’ efforts to protect their residents, whose safety is ostensibly the goal of this operation.