DeBlasio: Yes, we shield undocumented drunk drivers from immigration enforcement
As Joe Concha tweeted last night, Bill DeBlasio appeared on CNN with Jake Tapper to kiss any aspirations for national office goodbye. DeBlasio defended the Big Apple’s status as a “sanctuary city,” but claimed they will cooperate with the feds on immigration enforcement when it comes to violent crimes by suspects illegally in the US.
“If you’re a drunk driver and you’re an undocumented immigrant, why should there be a place for you in this country?” Tapper asked.
“Jake, there are 170 offenses in that law that are listed as serious and violent crimes that lead to automatic cooperation between the city of New York and our federal partners,” DeBlasio replied. “So any serious and violent crime, we’re going to work with them.”
“Is grand larceny or drunk driving a very minor offense?” Tapper followed.
“Drunk driving that does not lead to any other negative outcome, I could define as that,” DeBlasio said.
“That, I think, could be a good model, Jake, for how we proceed as a nation,” DeBlasio asserts. Er … huh? That might be true if that policy came from the legal authority whose laws were being violated. If Congress authorized some sort of waiver system between DHS and local authorities based on DeBlasio’s proposition here, with a list of crimes that don’t trigger reporting to Customs and Immigration Services, then that would be a law which would apply equally and equitably across the board.
What DeBlasio is doing, however, is ignoring the rule of law in favor of political convenience. Immigration law and enforcement is the legitimate purview of the federal government, not the states and certainly not the cities. Local police should not be used to “round up” illegal immigrants, but they have a duty to report those whom they discover after they are taken into custody for other crimes. That doesn’t necessarily mean witnesses and victims — who checks immigration status on crime victims, anyway? — but local and state authorities have a duty to enforce the rule of law and refer those arrested for other crimes who are discovered to be “undocumented,” no matter what the crime is. Otherwise, it sets up a system in which immigration laws have significantly different levels of enforcement depending on jurisdiction, which violates the spirit of equal treatment under the law.
If DeBlasio thinks that arbitrarily ignoring crime is “a good model … for how we proceed as a nation,” then he should run for Congress and propose that (and see how far he gets). In the meantime, mayors are supposed to enforce the law.