Listen here to the full podcast, which features an interview with Hans von Spakovsky on Philadelphia’s decision to stop sharing arrest data with ICE or read the lightly edited transcript of the interview below.
Plus, we discuss The New York Times’ hiring of a journalist with a history of racist tweets toward whites, and these stories:
- The EPA announces plans to freeze gas mileage standards—and challenge blue states’ rights to demand higher standards than the federal government.
- National Intelligence Director Dan Coats discusses the threat of Russia meddling in the 2018 elections.
- Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., introduces paid family leave legislation.
- In Massachusetts, a woman hits a car with a Trump bumper sticker.
- Comedian Chris Rock is criticized for tweeting an article from a conservative news site.
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Katrina Trinko: Last week, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, a Democrat, announced the city, which is a sanctuary city, would no longer provide Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, with certain data about arrests in the city.
Kenney said, “I cannot in good conscience allow the agreement to continue. We’re not going to provide them with information so they can go out and round people up,” and also said, “If I could abolish ICE, I would. But we can abolish the contract, this contract, and we are.”
The particular database at stake is the Preliminary Arraignment Reporting System, or PARS, while, per Fox News, there were already limits on what ICE could access in the database, it did mean that people who were arrested, or who were victims, who were witnesses to the crime, were all in the system.
Joining us today to discuss is Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation. Hans, what are the ramifications of Philadelphia’s decision?
Hans von Spakovsky: Mayor Jim Kenney is allowing political correctness to compromise public safety. And think about this: What ICE was giving access to was the arrests database. So these are arrests of residents of Philadelphia, who are committing all kinds of crimes.
The city of Philadelphia has one of the highest crime rates in the country—the crime rate there is 46 percent higher than the national average. You have more chances of getting assaulted, murdered, robbed in Philadelphia than almost any other city in the country.
And you would think that the mayor would believe it’s a good idea, if an illegal alien, who commits a local crime, was picked up by ICE and deported from the country. Instead of after they’ve served their sentence, being released and going back into the Philadelphia community. Because that’s in essence what he’s saying they want to have happen.
Daniel Davis: Is this the first major U.S. city to do this, to shop sharing data with ICE?
von Spakovsky: There are other cities that do. This is part of Philly’s sanctuary policy. And there’s a movement going on all across the country, being pushed by pro-illegal alien groups, to get cities to basically stop doing this.
Another part of this policy—this wasn’t in the news recently, but this is what Philadelphia does—is, look, if they’ve got somebody in jail serving a sentence because they assaulted someone in Philadelphia, or robbed someone in Philadelphia, and their time in jail comes to an end, they refuse to notify ICE, again, so that they can come pick this person up, and deport them from the country instead of releasing them back into the community.
So it’s just foolishness, reckless foolishness that’s going to increase the crime rate in the city at the expense of the residents.
Trinko: Does ICE have any legal recourse against Philadelphia or any grounds in which to say that a city can’t do this?
von Spakovsky: No. Cooperation is a voluntary thing. Unfortunately, we had a federal judge in Philly say that the Justice Department couldn’t cut off law enforcement grants from the Justice Department. You may recall [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions has threatened to do that, to cut off law enforcement grants to cities that put in sanctuary policies.
Philly was going to be one of those cities, but a federal judge issued an injunction telling Jeff Sessions he couldn’t do that.
I think that opinion was wrong, but we’ve been getting injunctions like that, frankly, from liberal federal judges all over the country. I think that issue eventually is going to get to the Supreme Court.
But that’s what needs to happen. Philly shouldn’t be getting federal money from the Justice Department, or [Department of Homeland Security], and other federal agencies to improve its law enforcement, when it’s doing everything it can to hurt the ability to enforce the law in the city.
Davis: And I guess the outcome here is just going to be that Philly is less safe, right? It’s just going to hurt Philly.
von Spakovsky: Yeah. Right, that’s exactly it. And I should point out, that one of the things that pro-illegal alien groups claim always is that, “Oh, well, we have to do this because otherwise victims of crimes won’t report it if they’re also here illegally.”
Well, that ignores the fact that the Department of Homeland Security has long had a policy that, if someone is here illegally, but they’re the victim of a crime, or they’re the witness to a crime, the policy of DHS is they’re not going to remove them and deport them, because they reported a crime.
So that’s not going to happen. All this is going to do is make the city an even bigger sanctuary for criminal aliens, people who break the law.
Trinko: So this came amid quite heated protests from some near city hall, Occupy ICE protesters. And then we have seen on a larger scale in the United States, a push by some on the far left, who want to abolish ICE. What is the purpose of the agency and do you think this movement is going anywhere?
von Spakovsky: I don’t think it’s going anywhere because it’s so recklessly stupid. I mean, I hate to use that terminology … Look, ICE is the federal agency that guards our borders, that guards our airports. They’re the ones that stop, if you go through and you look at their press releases of arrests, and things that they’ve done, you will find that they stop huge shipments of dangerous drugs. Fentanyl, for example. Opioids coming in. They are the ones that prevent terrorists from sneaking into the country.
They are the ones who prevent more ordinary, but just as dangerous criminals—for example, members of MS-13, one of the most dangerous and brutal gangs in the world—from getting into the country at our border and other entry posts.
And yet, these protesters say, “Oh, we should just get rid of these people.” They, clearly, they just want open borders, which in today’s world, you just cannot do that. I mean, it’s so unrealistic and it’s so dangerous.
Davis: One of the things I don’t quite understand here is that critics of ICE seem to mesh everything that ICE does together into one evil thing.
von Spakovsky: Right.
Davis: And they’re not distinguishing here with this program, which is to help ICE find and deport people who have committed crimes after being here.
von Spakovsky: Exactly right, yeah.
Davis: Which should be, even if you believe in open borders, at least if you believe in law enforcement, and protection of your residents, this would be a logical thing, but they’re just sort of labeling it as, “Oh, it’s an ICE … We don’t want ICE in here at all.”
von Spakovsky: Yeah, I know, but that’s exactly right. In fact, that’s what sanctuary policies all over the country do because the common factor in sanctuary policies all over the country is local cities saying, “When we arrest illegal aliens for committing local crimes, we are not going to notify ICE about it, and once they’ve served their sentence, we’re not going to notify ICE about that either, so they can come and be picked up.”
So, as I said before, they’re creating sanctuaries for criminals. Why do they want these criminal aliens staying in their local communities, where they’re going to victimize even more residents of the city? It doesn’t make any sense at all.
Trinko: So one of the criticisms from the left has been that, while some illegal immigrants, of course, end up or are members of MS-13, and do other criminal acts, that the right generally overstates how many of them do commit criminal acts, and that’s just sort of a non-issue. What would your response be to that?
von Spakovsky: Well, there’s been a lot of claims made that illegal aliens commit crimes at a lesser rate than citizens. That’s actually not true. I’ve written about that and pointed out the flaws in that analysis. On the other hand, there are many studies that have gone in and look at the criminal histories of criminal aliens.
No one is saying that all illegal aliens commit criminal acts, even though they’re in the country illegally. But the amount of crime committed by criminal aliens is shockingly huge. And what everyone needs to remember is, that not a single one of those crimes would have happened, not a single American would have been victimized if those individuals weren’t in the country. Or if the first time they were caught by local law enforcement, or Department of Homeland Security, they’d immediately been deported and removed to their country.
There’s a lot of Americans today that would be alive, who have been killed by illegal aliens … that would never have happened if those illegal aliens were not in the country.
Trinko: OK. Well, thank you so much for joining us today, Hans.
von Spakovsky: Sure, thanks for having me.