Boston’s Trust Act, that U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling says “maintains” the city’s status as a sanctuary city, is helping illegal immigrants — not law-abiding citizens. We discussed that and the impact to public safety in my second part of a multi-part series with the region’s top prosecutor:
AndrewLelling: It shouldn’t be a controversial proposition that a country gets to decide who comes in. Presumably you care who comes into your house. You want to know in advance that it’s someone you want there, that it’s safe and that they’re not going to do anything you don’t want them to do. It’s beyond me why that’s become a controversial idea.
Adriana Cohen: Tell us about the Trust Act and what it does.
AL: It maintains Boston’s sanctuary status. It prevents the Boston police from helping Immigration (officials) to do civil arrests for deportation and what irks me about it is it prevents the Boston police from rendering assistance. Even if ICE is trying to take a violent person off the street and that strikes me as crazy. Shouldn’t everyone support taking a violent person off the street or a drug trafficker? The Boston police are here to protect the public safety just as ICE is so it strikes me as bad policy.
AC: Is it true that when criminal illegal immigrants are released from prison officials aren’t allowed to notify ICE? So in other words dangerous violent ex convicts are being released into our communities and we don’t know about it?
AL: Correct. In fact, there have been instances where jail officials have been disciplined for giving ICE a heads-up. … It’s a public safety problem.
AC: What percentage of gangs and drug traffickers are here in Massachusetts illegally?
AL: In our drug trafficking prosecutions it’s not at all unusual to be arresting people who are here illegally. We arrest a large number of Dominican drug traffickers who’ve entered the country illegally. We’ve seen it with MS-13, with the violent El Salvadoran gang where we’ll arrest 20 or 30 people and we’ll find that a large portion of them are here illegally. So that’s where we see it most.
AC: What is going to happen now that a federal appeals court in New York has ruled that the government can block grants to sanctuary cities that are not in compliance with federal immigration laws?
AL: It creates an interesting problem for sanctuary jurisdictions. Because now some of them are going to have to decide between literally millions of dollars in federal law enforcement aid on the one hand or sanctuary status on the other. So let’s say you’re a state that decides to forgo this grant funding that you’d otherwise get and what the money goes to is, let me be clear, it’s for new equipment, new bulletproof vests, new cruisers, drug prevention and drug addiction programs, all sorts of law enforcement programming and training. That’s what this stuff is used for. It’s millions of dollars. So if you’re a state trying to pick between these two things you have to explain to your own citizens that you thought making it harder for ICE to arrest illegal immi- grants who are committing other crimes was more important to you than millions of dollars in law enforcement funding that your police departments could use to make themselves and the whole community safe.
AC: You point out in your recent op-ed in the Herald that sanctuary cities are starting a troubling trend where it’s telling citizens throughout the country that they don’t have to obey federal laws they don’t like not just on the immigration topic but also on gun control laws and other political issues like abortion.
AL: That’s exactly right. It’s taking lawlessness and wrapping it in self righteousness. That’s what it’s doing. It’s what sanctuary cities do. They decide that they want to inhibit federal law and they pat themselves on the back for doing that. And so they’re setting a very bad precedent. … You can’t pick and choose the laws that you follow. It doesn’t work that way. You’re not allowed to do that. If don’t like the federal immigration laws, vote (to change them). Otherwise stay out of the way.