Marino Questions DHS Secretary on Sanctuary Cities
Washington D.C.—Congressman Tom Marino (PA-10) questioned Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson in yesterday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing “on the department’s poor record on immigration enforcement and failure to crack down on dangerous sanctuary city policies.”
Secretary Johnson testified before the full committee regarding his department’s oversight of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency’s policy of allowing cities to ignore federal law and release criminal aliens at the discretion of local officials.
See the video of Congressman Marino questioning Secretary Johnson here.
Read the full transcript of Marino’s questioning and Secretary Johnson’s responses below:
Representative Marino: As a former US Attorney I realize the complications involved in dealing with all kinds of local law enforcement entities can be quite chaotic, and I am disappointed with the administration and the way I think it is not directly handling sanctuary cities. I think the administration can have a much more direct impact by being aggressive as it has in other areas to force sanctuary cities to be in contact with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). I have worked with ICE for a great deal of time. I think they are some of the best agents that we have in the federal system, and I do agree with your position on the pay. I put most of the blame on sanctuary cities at this point; however I put part of the blame on Homeland because of the void between the detainer and a warrant. I know in some situations that a warrant may not be applicable, but give me some insight on how you see, or what directive you can give to sanctuary cities in particular of letting ICE know when an illegal individual is being released from any facility. Do you have anything in mind at this point?
Secretary Jeh Johnson replied: Well if it’s somebody that we want for detention or removal purposes, my hope is that they not be released, period. I honestly believe that the most effective way to go about getting at undocumented criminals in local jails is through a cooperative constructive effort.
Congressman Marino replied: But that isn’t working. I think you have the authority that you need to take the tough position to say in that directive ‘you will respond to us, and if you need something done legislatively, come back to us.’ With all due respect sir, I think that the administration is avoiding this because of its propensity to want amnesty the way that it does, but that is a matter for another day.
Secretary Jeh Johnson replied: The problem if I may, is for a long time, we did take the position that detainers were mandatory, and that was leading to a lot of litigation in the courts. We’re losing for reasons of the due process clause in the constitution.
Congressman Marino: So maybe you need us to help out a little bit.
Secretary Jeh Johnson replied: Frankly we’re losing a lot with these jurisdictions who were passing all these laws saying ‘Thou shall not cooperate with ICE,’ and that led to a real public safety problem in my view, which I think we are correcting now.
Congressman Marino: Well if at any time, you think you need the legislation to help you in that direction, please contact us.
Congressman Marino: I want to switch now to a different situation here particularly in my district, but it is happening across the U.S. Last year, the U.S Sentencing Commission promulgated an amendment to the federal sentencing guidelines. Amendment 782 reduced the base offense level for all drug trafficking by two levels. The amendment was also made retroactive, and as a result, more than 10,000 drug trafficking offenders will be released early from prison starting on November 1 of this year. Pertaining to the Middle District, there will be 68 people released before November 1, 2015 and December 31, 2016 and many more after 2016. And as a state gets closer to the border those numbers increase because on my list of the sixty eight people, there are about 20 percent, or 19 of them from outside the country. Now this list does not tell me if they are illegals or not, but I would ask if you could take a look at this, pay particular attention to the list of people outside the country to see if they are violent illegals. That is probably another way that we could stop a great deal of what has been taking place, particularly what has taken place over the last two weeks. And my condolences go out to that family. Would you please respond?
Secretary Jeh Johnson replied: I’m aware of this issue. I’m aware of the adjustment to the federal sentencing guidelines. I’m aware that a number of individuals will be released as a result. I’m aware that a number of them were probably undocumented, and we have been working with the DOJ to do the most effective thing for public safety in that regard, and we will continue to do so.
Congressman Marino: I appreciate that and I yield back the one second of my time.