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Why Don’t Sanctuary City Sheriffs Have To Obey The Laws Like Joe Arpaio Does?


In 2013, Sheriff Joe Arpaio was enjoined from continuing his notorious “immigration sweeps” in Maricopa County, Arizona. At the time, his deputies were known to target predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods for traffic stops, and Arpaio was convicted of racial profiling. U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow permanently enjoined Arpaio and his deputies from “detaining, holding or arresting Latino occupants of vehicles in Maricopa County based on a reasonable belief, without more, that such persons are in the country without authorization.”

Nonetheless, Arpaio allowed his deputies to continue the sweeps. He also continued holding illegal aliens without a criminal warrant, in violation of Snow’s injunction against “detaining Latino occupants of vehicles stopped for traffic violations for a period longer than reasonably necessary to resolve the traffic violation in the absence of reasonable suspicion that any of them have committed or are committing a violation of federal or state criminal law.”

Maricopa County’s practice was to turn aliens with criminal warrants over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but ICE wouldn’t take the ones without warrants, so Arpaio had them driven to Border Patrol. The 75-minute car ride from Maricopa County to the border was found to be unlawful detainment because if an individual isn’t charged with a crime, the Fourth Amendment says he’s free to go.

Because Arpaio failed to heed Snow’s injunction, U.S. District Judge Susan R. Bolton convicted him of criminal contempt last month and set the sentencing hearing for October 5. The sentencing, however, will never take place because late Friday afternoon, President Trump pardoned Arpaio.

Cue Sudden Love for Rule of Law Among Its Breakers

When Arpaio was pardoned despite willful racial profiling and unlawful holds, the Left went nuts. They must have all texted each other simultaneously and said, “This is so awesome. We’ve got him on the rule of law. Loser!”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi tweeted, “pardon of fellow birther Arpaio makes mockery of rule of law…” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted, “Joe Arpaio ignored the courts and the rule of law…” Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, wrote on her Facebook page, and not in a good way, that “Trump allies are above the law…”

Meanwhile, sanctuary city sheriffs all over the country willfully violate the federal statute against prohibiting or restricting communication with ICE, and the Left considers them heroes. If constitutional law is the standard, how do sanctuary city sheriffs get away with not enforcing federal laws passed by Congress? Isn’t the power of Congress to enact laws as much a part of the Constitution as the Fourth Amendment is?

The kneejerk rationalization from sanctuary cities is that state and local law enforcement are not obligated to enforce federal immigration law. But Congress addressed that apparent dilemma when it passed 8 U.S.C. 1373.

Notwithstanding any other provision of Federal, State, or local law, a Federal, State, or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual. [emphasis added]

Congress didn’t mandate that states enforce federal immigration law. In the interest of protecting the American people, Congress mandated that one government entity (local law enforcement) not prohibit or restrict communication regarding immigration status with another government entity (ICE).

Two Kinds of Immigration Enforcement Disdain

While Arpaio was enforcing laws a court told him he had no business enforcing, sanctuary jurisdictions were refusing to enforce laws Congress told them they had to enforce. For example, the New Orleans Police Department mandated that “Members shall not disclose information regarding the citizenship or immigration status of any person unless required to do so by state or federal law.”

But as the inspector general noted in a May 31, 2016 memo to the Department of Justice, 1373 does not require that jurisdictions disclose information, only that they not prohibit or restrict sharing of immigration status information with ICE. “[U]nless the understanding of NOPD’s employees is that they are not prohibited or restricted from sharing immigration status information with ICE, the policy would be inconsistent with Section 1373.”

San Francisco likewise mandated that “No department, agency, commission, officer or employee of the City and County of San Francisco shall use any City funds or resources to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law or to gather or disseminate information regarding the immigration status of individuals in the City and County of San Francisco unless such assistance is required by federal or State statute, regulation or court decision.”

The IG likewise questioned their compliance with 1373 in that “unless the understanding of San Francisco employees is that they are permitted to share immigration status information with ICE, the policy would be inconsistent with Section 1373.” Where is the concern over constitutional adherence from sanctuary city sheriffs? Why is it that only certain laws (read: “favored by the Left”) are exempt from enforcement?

‘No One Is Above the Law’

Sen. John McCain issued a statement criticizing the pardon, and—you guessed it—emphasizing the rule of law: “No one is above the law and the individuals entrusted with the privilege of being sworn law officers should always seek to be beyond reproach in their commitment to fairly enforcing the laws they swore to uphold…The President has the authority to make this pardon, but doing so at this time undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law as Mr. Arpaio has shown no remorse for his actions.”

The first sentence of McCain’s statement should be read aloud to all law officers and elected officials in the country: “No one is above the law and the individuals entrusted with the privilege of being sworn law officers should always seek to be beyond reproach in their commitment to fairly enforcing the laws they swore to uphold.”

There’s no asterisk anywhere that says, “Unless we’re talking about sanctuary cities.” It seems to me that either we’re all governed by the Constitution—or none of us are. `