For Clark County, Georgia, Sheriff Ira Edwards Jr., the danger sanctuary cities pose to communities became overwhelmingly clear during a recent conversation he had with a federal judge.
“You delivered. The National Sheriffs’ Association gives your first year an A-plus for law enforcement issues,” @NationalSheriff says.
“I was very, very surprised when I was in a training [conference] this past week, and there was a federal magistrate judge that told us she had sentenced a person over 25 times, and that person has come back into our country,” Edwards told The Daily Signal.
“My concern is, as a sheriff, if we are going to secure our homeland, it is going to be imperative that we build some type of border to prevent those that would do harm within our community, within our homeland,” Edwards said.
Edwards, a member of the board of directors for the National Sheriffs’ Association, along with other sheriffs from across the country, met Tuesday with President Donald Trump and White House officials to discuss illegal immigration, the opioid addiction crisis, and the transfer of excess military equipment for local law enforcement.
“Sanctuary city” is the term commonly used to describe jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate fully with federal immigration enforcement officials. The Justice Department has sought to penalize those jurisdictions by withholding certain federal law enforcement grants from them.
The sheriffs noted the political decision of a city to defy federal law affects nearby localities.
“When we have the sanctuary cities, that is going to be a breeding ground for those who come back that are undocumented, coming back into our community. That is why I am kind of concerned,” Edwards said in response to a question from The Daily Signal as the sheriffs took queries from a small group of reporters after the meeting with the president.
“What we are saying is, we welcome people to come, but when you commit crime, and you create havoc in our community, we have issues with that, because it becomes not only a national security issue, but it becomes a public safety issue,” he said.
The National Sheriffs’ Association’s position is that sanctuary cities encourage illegal immigration, pose a threat to public safety and national security, and impose a severe financial burden on taxpayers.
It costs about $19 million per day across the country to house and care for between 300,000 and 450,000 convicted criminal immigrants in the country, Edwards said, citing Justice Department and Homeland Security Department numbers. He noted that not all of those are in the country illegally.
In discussing the opioid threat, policymakers should reconsider the national trend toward legalizing marijuana, said Polk County, Florida, Sheriff Grady Judd, president of Major County Sheriffs of America, an association of elected sheriffs of counties with populations of 500,000 or more.
“Every person I’ve ever asked that has a drug addiction problem, I would ask them intentionally, ‘What was your drug of choice, your first drug of choice, that set you on this path?’” Judd told reporters outside the White House, answering his own question: “Marijuana. Every time, marijuana.”
“So, we are legalizing across this country [in] the different states the drug that starts this addiction process,” Judd continued. “You can listen to all the banter that you want. Listen to all the hyperbole that you want. But the reality of it is that marijuana is the drug that starts it, and fentanyl is the drug that kills you immediately. Methamphetamine and cocaine is the drug that kills you over a period of years.”
During brief remarks ahead of the meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Trump said his administration supported law enforcement “100 percent” and wanted to listen to law enforcement officials’ suggestions.
“We’re taking the fight to the drug dealers and drug pushers, which, frankly, I think is the No. 1 way we are going to stop drugs,” said Trump, who was flanked by sheriffs at a conference table. “We can form all the blue-ribbon committees in the world. But the way you are going to stop it is through strong law and order when it comes to the drugs and the drug pushers and the drug dealers. That’s the way it is going to stop. It is really the No. 1 way.”
The nation’s sheriffs strongly approve of Trump’s first year in office, said Rockwall County, Texas, Sheriff Harold W. Eavenson, president of the National Sheriffs’ Association.
“We asked for help on immigration and detainer solutions, and ICE is getting the violent criminal out of our country. You delivered,” Eavenson told reporters, referring to Trump. “We asked for assistance on getting excess military equipment for law enforcement. You delivered. We asked for help on asset forfeiture enforcement. You delivered. The National Sheriffs’ Association gives your first year an A-plus for law enforcement issues.”