Wednesday afternoon, President Donald Trump and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and several other members of Congress, met with victims of crimes committed by illegal immigrants to hear their stories ahead of Thursday's final debates and votes on two critical pieces of public safety legislation.
The House is scheduled to take up both the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, which cuts off federal funding for Sanctuary Cities, and Kate's Law, which increases penalties for criminal illegals who continue to re-enter the country. Both have strong support from the White House.
Prior to the meeting, the president made a few remarks:
Countless innocent Americans, including the loved ones of many families in the room—and many of these families are friends of mine—great friends of mine that I got to know over the campaign trail because they fought so hard for this. And they are with us. They've had members of their family killed by illegal immigrants and, really, people with multiple—in some cases, multiple deportations.
I'm especially honored to be here with so many courageous families whom I did get to know so well over the past period of time ...
You lost the people that you love because our government refused to enforce our nation's immigration laws. And that's even the existing immigration laws, without new laws. That's existing immigration laws.
For years, the pundits, journalists, politicians in Washington refused to hear your voices, but on Election Day, 2016, your voices were heard all across the entire world. Right? You better believe it. Nobody died in vain, I can tell you.
Chairman Goodlatte has produced a package of truly key immigration enforcement bills. We've been waiting for these for a long time, and I want to thank you, Chairman, for doing that. Great job. And it's just perfect.
You can see the entire meeting in the video clip above.
A short time prior to that meeting, Acting Immigration & Customs Enforcement Director Tom Homan and U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah John Huber discussed the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act and Kate's Law in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room in the West Wing of the White House. Homan also discussed ICE's new Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement Office, which is working with families like those who met with the president.
More than 400 calls from victims have been referred to our community relations officers and victim specialists for assistance with accessing resources, getting more information about a specific case, and how the immigration process works. Sanctuary jurisdictions pose a threat to the American public by refusing to work with ICE and allowing egregious criminal offenders back into the community to put the lives of the public at risk. Not to mention the fact, it also puts my law enforcement officers at risk because they have to go back on the street to arrest somebody they could have arrested in a county jail.
When some law enforcement agencies fail to honor detainers or release serious criminal offenders, they—it undermines ICE's ability to protect public safety and carry out its mission. Most work with us, but many don't in the largest cities, and that is where criminal aliens and criminal gangs flourish. It is safer for everyone if we take custody of an alien in a controlled environment of another law enforcement agency as opposed to visiting an alien's residence, place of work, or other public area. Arresting a criminal in the safety, security, and privacy of the jail is the right thing to do.
Beyond the issue of sanctuary jurisdictions, the two executive orders signed by the president earlier this year have finally allowed my officers to do what they do best: uphold the integrity of our borders and our immigration system by enforcing the laws as they were written.
ICE's job is to execute a mission within framework provided us, that framework meaning laws, policies and executive orders. Our job and our sworn duty is to enforce the laws of this country. The current numbers show that the executive orders and the policies are working. Immigration and illegal crossings on the border has significantly decreased. No one can argue that.
Utah perennially leads the interior states and districts in criminal alien prosecutions. Every year, we prosecute hundreds of federal felony cases.
Now to be clear, these are criminal aliens—drug traffickers, gang members, domestic violence abusers, human traffickers, child exploiters. From my perspective, in Utah, where it should be a presumptively safe mountain haven, criminal aliens significantly impact our quality of life by exposing our nation to unwarranted risk of violence.
That is why Attorney General Sessions has directed myself and my colleagues as U.S. attorneys to prioritize these cases in our prosecutions. If it's a problem in Utah—and it is; 40 percent of my caseload, my felony caseload in Utah are criminal alien prosecutions. If it's a problem in Utah, it's a problem for the nation. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors need more tools and unfettered coordination to address the challenge.
So this pending legislation—Kate's Law on one hand and the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act on the other hand—advance the ball for law enforcement in keeping our communities safe. The laws, if passed, would give officers and prosecutors more tools to protect the public. Stiffer penalties for reentry offenders make sense. It just does.
The status quo is not deterring the criminals from returning. As an example, just today in Salt Lake City, my office initiated one more prosecution in what is projected to be over 300 felony prosecutions this year against a criminal alien. This defendant's record indicates that he has been convicted four times for drug trafficking. He has been convicted two times for unlawfully reentering the United States after deportation. And, well, he's back in Utah, and what do you know—in 2017 he was arrested yet again for drug trafficking.
Kate's Law enhances our ability to stem the tide of criminals who seem to almost always return to victimize us. On the other hand, moving unnatural impediments between local and federal law enforcement will enable coordination that we need to keep our country and our neighborhoods safe. The priority for public safety overrides and wins out against what these so-called sanctuary policies promise.
We don't gamble with our public safety. Criminal aliens don't need encouragement to reside in our beautiful cities. Criminal aliens warrant handcuffs and removal. Law enforcement professionals are very good at what they do, and we should not impede them from their excellent work in keeping us safe.
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