Nov 1 2019

Charlotte Weekly

By Pat McCrory

North Carolina and our nation need to take action against sanctuary cities, but Democratic leaders continue to obstruct Republican efforts to keep American citizens safe. 

Fighting sanctuary cities is central to President Trump’s promise to the American people. Self-declared sanctuary jurisdictions across the country put American lives at risk by refusing to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement efforts, releasing dangerous criminals back onto the streets in order to prevent them from being deported.

Shortly after taking office, the President strongly endorsed two laws designed to protect American citizens from the threat posed by sanctuary policies. Kate’s Law, named after a young woman killed by an illegal immigrant who had previously been deported five times, increased the criminal penalty for illegal border crossings. The second bill, the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, prevented federal grant money from going to self-declared “sanctuary cities” that bar local law enforcement from cooperating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Although both bills passed the House of Representatives, neither made it through the Senate, where the prospect of a Democrat filibuster made final passage impossible. Now, Democrats are threatening yet another effort to combat dangerous sanctuary policies — Sen. Thom Tillis’s Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act.

The bill allows victims of crimes perpetrated by illegal immigrants to take civil action against sanctuary jurisdictions that released the offender. The legislation not only provides relief to victims and their families, but also incentivizes local governments to drop their sanctuary policies. 

Tillis recently led a committee hearing on the issue nearly four months after the legislation was formally introduced, but Democrat members of the Senate Judiciary Committee expressed reservations about the bill, suggesting that it will likely face an uphill battle on the Senate floor unless a significant number of Democrats cross the aisle to support it.

Last December, Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden proudly announced — on his first day in office, no less — that North Carolina’s largest county would no longer comply with ICE detainer requests, which the agency issues when it believes an individual in criminal custody might be a removable alien. In Fiscal Year 2019, nearly 500 criminal illegal aliens were released from North Carolina prisons in spite of detainers issued against them by ICE.  

Based on the Democrats’ logic, we might as well get rid of customs not only at our land borders, but also at international airports. If someone ran through customs at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, would the sheriff assist in detaining them?

We witnessed the inevitable consequences of this reckless policy earlier this year, when Mecklenburg County released an illegal immigrant who had been arrested on rape and child sex charges despite an ICE detainer. County officials didn’t even bother to notify ICE that the individual was being set free. It took ICE almost two months to finally apprehend the fugitive, during which time North Carolinians were unknowingly living with a dangerous predator roaming freely in our midst. Sadly, Governor Cooper and other Democratic leaders in our state remain silent and continue to let this happen.

That’s absolutely intolerable, and congressional Republicans are right to follow the President’s lead by taking a stand against sanctuary cities. 

I saw first hand as the governor of North Carolina and mayor of Charlotte that when local, state, and federal officials work together, lives are saved and the crime rate goes down. But when sheriffs overseeing large cities refuse to work with the federal government — as in Greensboro, Raleigh, Durham, Ashville, and Charlotte — that cooperation no longer exists, and crime and murder rates go up. 

If Democrats cared about the American people as much as their own political agenda, they would rush to enact this common-sense solution. Instead, they seem determined to stick to their obstructionist guns, even if it endangers their own constituents. We need these three pieces of legislation to help protect our citizens in the ninth largest, most populous state in America.

Pat McCrory is the former governor of North Carolina and former mayor of Charlotte.