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President-elect Donald Trump says once he is in office he will deport two to three million immigrants who have committed crimes. In response, mayors of cities nationwide – from New York to Los Angeles – pledged to not to cooperate with immigration agents. Some universities are considering similar policies. But municipal officials risk losing millions of dollars in federal aid if they don’t cooperate with federal authorities. Trump says that if cities fail to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, he will block all federal funding for these municipalities. Diane and a panel of guests discuss so-called “sanctuary cities” under a Trump presidency.
- Angela Kelley Executive director, Center for American Progress Action Fund; senior vice president, Center for American Progress
- Steven Camarota Director of research, Center for Immigration Studies, an organization that supports allowing fewer immigrants into the country
- Muzaffar Chishti Director, Migration Policy Institute's office at the New York University School of Law
- Edward Murray Mayor of Seattle, Washington
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. In an effort to resist possible new immigration deportation policies under a Trump administration, Democratic lawmakers in California are moving to enact laws that would offer immigrants legal aid. Here to talk about how cities and states are responding to immigration policies under a Trump presidency, Angela Kelley with the Center For American Progress and Steven Camarota with the Center for Immigration Studies. Joining us from NPR in New York, Muzaffar Chishti of the Migration Policy Institute at New York University.
MS. DIANE REHMI do invite you to offer your comments, your thoughts. Give us a call at 800-433-8850. Send an email to email@example.com. Follow us on Facebook or send us a tweet. And thank you all for joining us.
MS. ANGELA KELLEYThank you for having us.
MR. STEVEN CAMAROTAIt's good to be with you.
MR. MUZAFFAR CHISHTIThank you for having me, too.
REHMThank you. Steve, let me start with you. President-elect Trump has promised to deport some 3 million undocumented immigrants. During the campaign, he was talking about 11 million. What's brought about the change there in numbers?
CAMAROTAWell, I don’t think he's been entirely, you know, very, very specific, but what he said is, look, we're going to start with the about 1.9 million people that in its own documents, the Department of Homeland Security said have committed felonies and crimes in the United States. And then, he hopes to move on to others. We have, say, for example, deportation absconders, people who've been ordered deported, about 900,000, but it has not been followed up on after the judged issued those orders.
CAMAROTAAfter that, I think, you know, he feels that once we get enforcement in place, then we can think about other options. But for the time being, he wants to go after criminal aliens. And the other big priority that's changed is that Trump sees immigration, it seems, as a jobs issue. And he's worried about the job competition at the bottom and in the labor market, the impact on social services and he's not so focused on the illegal immigrants themselves.
REHMMuzaffar, I gather you and Steven disagree on the actual numbers of undocumented immigrants who've been convicted of crimes.
CHISHTIThat's right. I mean, we have no idea where the 3 million figure that President-elect Trump coded in his "60 Minutes" interview comes from. The best estimates we have is from DHS study of 2012 which estimates there are about 1.9 million foreign-born people in the United States who had criminal convictions that would make them removable. And we did an analysis of those numbers and from that, we found that you could estimate that about 820,000 unauthorized people with criminal convictions are removable from the United States.
CHISHTIThat's a, obviously, significant difference in the numbers. And of those, only about 300,000 have been convicted of felonies.
REHMWhere do you come out on these numbers, Angela Kelley?
KELLEYWell, I think it's consistent with all of Donald Trump's policies as he's let -- as he shared them, which is that they're inconsistent. I mean, you don't really know from moment to moment what he's going to do. But there is a consistent theme, which is about deportation and really going after large numbers of people who are living in our communities. And we know that two-thirds of the undocumented have been here for more than a decade.
KELLEYWhere you see a lot of resistance, and I think this is going to continue to grow, is at the state and local level with people like college, university presidents who are pushing back and saying, well, wait a minute. We know that we've got 750,000 young people who have been working legally, who are attending classes. And so you're seeing a resistance by many people across the political spectrum, red states, blue states, saying, wait a minute. Let's pause this.
REHMMuzaffar, as Angela said, you've got many mayors in cities from east to west coast saying they're not going to cooperate with federal immigration agents. What do you make of that?
CHISHTIWell, this has been a development which is going on for many years, as you know. For a long time, we have thought that in this country that federal immigration enforcement is the exclusive province of the federal government, that states and localities have no role in that domain. After 9/11, there have been cities or corporate arrangements between federal government and states and localities which have entangled these jurisdictions in the enforcement of immigration laws.
CHISHTIAnd they were, obviously, took a totally different leap off of secure communities was put into place in 2008 and made universal in 2013 where almost anyone who is booked at the local jail, their fingerprints are matched against the immigration history and then the federal government, in this case ICE, the immigration customs enforcement, would ask that local jurisdictions put a hold, what we call detainers in our parlance to keep that person for 48 hours till ICE would come and pick them up.
CHISHTIWhat these local jurisdictions found over the years, that a large number of these were people who had strong ties to the community and they were being removed for very low level crimes. Many case, violent -- non violent crimes. And they started offering resistance and so far, about 350 such jurisdictions have offered one form of resistance to the other in response to the needs of their own security in the streets.
REHMSo Angela, where did this term "sanctuary city" come from and what do you see happening across the country?
KELLEYYeah, that's a great question. I think it's like a piece of modern art. It means different things to different people. But I think at its core, it's about protection. And this is certainly where local law enforcement know a lot about how to protect their local communities and Washington politicians don’t. And so as Muzaffar was indicating, this isn't like a new debate. We have five states, 514 counties, 38 cities that all have policies or ordinances that put limits on their local police getting entangled in enforcing federal immigration law.
REHMSo what does that mean, actually?
KELLEYIt means that they may hold the person, but if -- and they book a person, they take their fingerprints and everybody's fingerprints get sent to the FBI and that's shared with the DHS. So it's not as if DHS doesn't have an opportunity to come after and get somebody if they want to. But what they say they don't want to do is keep holding somebody or keep holding somebody who hasn't been, you know, hasn't booked, hasn't convicted.
KELLEYThat's where they're placing limits on saying, well, wait a minute. We can't detain people indefinitely. And courts have supported that position and said, that's right, you can't just hold onto somebody because you think they may be here illegally. And where this comes from, Diane, is it's like, look, it's very basic. It's that you want to have the community be in a position where they trust the police. They pick up their phone and they call the police when they are the victim of a crime or when they've seen a crime.
KELLEYAnd what's been shown very clearly is that if you have these kinds of policies in place, people are afraid. They don’t come forward and, ironically, it makes our communities less safe to have these policies in place.
REHMSteven, I gather you disagree with what cities and communities are doing. You do see it as a risk to public safety.
CAMAROTAOf course. And so do most Americans. Look, the bottom line is what we're talking about is somebody gets arrested by the police. We're not talking about the police going out looking for someone. Someone's in a jail. They've been identified by the immigration service as an illegal immigrant and they simply ask that jail to hold the person. Now, it's important to note 90 percent of sheriffs who run the county jails do cooperate with that, but a number in big cities, they get a lot of attention, don't. And that's why we have these numbers.
CAMAROTAAccording to DHS itself, in 2014 and '15, 17,000 people were released even after the immigration service asked that the jurisdiction hold them. Of those individuals, 63 percent had been convicted of a crime already and one-quarter went out and committed a new crime within a year of being released by the sanctuary jurisdictions.
REHMSo Angela, what do you make of that?
KELLEYLook, if somebody commits a crime, they should absolutely be arrested, convicted and in jail. We're not excusing people for their criminal behavior. But what we are saying is that you can't just hold onto somebody indefinitely, and the courts have agreed on this, once you have processed them and you've already sent the fingerprints to DHS. They have the opportunity to act on it if they have a warrant.
REHMAnd that's the question. How long are these people being held, Steven?
CAMAROTAYeah, typically, it's only 24 hours or 48 hours. And many jurisdictions even have a policy when they're about to release one. Not only do they not cooperate with the detainer, that's the request. Remember, they do cooperate in the same circumstances with the federal marshal service when they ask to hold someone, or even say a U.S. military, when a jail is asked to hold someone who's AWOL, then they're gonna come by and pick them up. In this case, they don't cooperate.
CAMAROTAAnd they even have policies in place in lots of cities that won't even tell DHS that the person is being released. That's what happened in the case -- Steinle case. Not only did they refuse to honor the detainer, but they never even told DHS that they were releasing this person who then went out and murdered someone.
REHMAnd we'll talk more about the Kate Steinle case after we take a short break. As we talk about what might be done during a Trump administration regarding those who are here illegally and who have committed crimes, I'll be looking forward to hearing your questions, comments. Join us on 800-433-8850.
REHMAnd welcome back. We're talking about what might the new policy about immigration and illegal immigrants here in this country who have committed crimes be under a new Trump administration. And, Steven, just before the break, you mentioned the name of Kate Steinle. She was a San Francisco woman and killed by an undocumented immigrant. Talk about that case.
CAMAROTAOkay. So this was an individual who had a criminal record. He was in the custody of ICE. The city of San Francisco actually said, hey, we want to charge him with something else. Will you release him to us? They said ICE gave it to San Francisco. And San Francisco subsequently decided not to charge him. Then they didn't tell DHS and they released him. And shortly thereafter, he murdered Kate Steinle in San Francisco.
REHMMuzaffar, do you want to comment?
CHISHTIWell, I think, you know, the Kate Steinle case has obviously brought a lot of focus on this practice. And, you know, I think there's debate on both sides of this issue. I -- it was clear, under San Francisco city policy that this person had not committed any violent felony in the last seven years, which is what their guidance are and they released him under their policy. They would respect the detainer, if that had been issued as a judicial warrant and that wasn't and either. So in the absence of both those situations, he was released.
CHISHTII think it does, frankly, raise issues that kind of one policy applying to all may not be the best situation, even for these cities. Some are like the person who killed Kathy Steinle, had a lot of record of past immigration violations -- about five or six. So he should have been, in my opinion, treated differently by the city. That just because he did not fit the city ordinance for holding, but given his history, that should have been evaluated. And they should have made an exception...
CHISHTI...and allowed ICE to at least interview him. So I think you have...
REHMAngela, I see in...
CHISHTI...as a new round of these. Yeah. You'll have a new round of these that these cities will sort of recalibrate their policies in light of the experiences that they're facing.
REHMCNN, Angela, reported that Lopez-Sanchez, the immigrant who was here, had been actually deported five times.
REHMAnd isn't that the concern?
KELLEYI mean, absolutely. And this is where I think Muzaffar was making a really smart point. I mean, all his points are of course smart. But it really is local officials. It's police chiefs themselves that know how to tailor policies to their communities. The fact that somebody has been deported several times, absolutely a problem. But that's ICE's failure. That's a failure of our federal immigration policies. That doesn't mean that we now want to have local police chasing after people, demanding papers of them, asking them to become immigration agents and evaluate whether those papers are true or not and what do they mean? I mean, that will make us less safe.
KELLEYAnd you know, like, if you just look at the kinds of examples that many police chiefs and many local officials give. The police chief of Dayton, Ohio, for example, as they adopt their policies, that built on community trust, that built on community policing, that realize that they have an immigrant community that they want to work with, they saw serious violent crime drop. And so if we want communities to be safe, which is the ultimate goal of our local police, then we need to leave it in their hands to know how to do that.
REHMSo, Angela, cities started refusing to cooperate with immigration officials years ago. Tell us what happened. Give us the history.
KELLEYAh, well, this might be where Muzaffar, the professor, could probably do a better job than I can. But you had something going back -- actually back to even 1996, where there were a suite of immigration laws that were passed, including laws that said that you can't have a state or local policy that says that you can protect people and not give the information. It was Mayor Giuliani of New York City that actually sued on that and said, wait a minute, federal government. We don't want you telling us that my state and local officials can be forced to share information that we don't want to share.
KELLEYLike you fast-forward now to 2016, right? All these years later. We now have states and localities where undocumented people can drive legally, where they have ID cards. In New York alone, there's 800,000 undocumented people that have ID cards. So the question is, are we going to now ask that all that information be turned over to the Trump administration? Is that the kind of society we can be? It's just -- it's unimaginable what that will cause.
REHMMuzaffar, I gather this actually grew out of efforts by American churches back in the 1980s to shelter and protect people who were fleeing from civil war in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala. And then it grew.
CHISHTIExactly. You know, the term sanctuary cities is basically a catch-all phrase to define a large array of phenomenon. So it kind of -- the distinctions among these various actions gets sort of lost in this broad definition. It started, at least in this country, from the movement of various churches in the 1980s, where were -- thought they were going to provide sanctuary to people fleeing the violence and civil war in Central America, who might be picked up for removal by Immigration and Nationality Service -- Naturalization Service at that point.
CHISHTIAt the same time, there was a parallel development in various cities, which made it their policy to ask their officers not to inquire about the immigration status of people that they get in touch with. That was seen as a parallel development, not widespread, frankly. But this whole phenomenon about sanctuary city and the focus on sanctuary city got huge new rebirth after 9/11 and particularly after Secure Communities program was put in place, which entangled now these local jurisdictions in the pursuit of federal immigration enforcement in a way that never had been.
CHISHTII mean, just to put it in context, in 2014, I think about 75 percent of people removed from this country were all picked up as a result of Secure Communities program. And that -- therefore, it sort of made, without their intending to, these local jurisdictions as the frontline of immigration enforcement. And that's why many of them had to rethink this role.
REHMSo, now, Steven Camarota, you have the president-elect and Republican lawmakers vowing to withhold federal funding from cities that do not cooperate with federal agents.
CAMAROTAYeah. And as I said, 90 percent do. It's only a small fraction in certain localities that don't. And let me be clear, so we understand, they're not asking that they go out and arrest illegal immigrants. What they're saying is, someone who gets arrested, we submit their fingerprints, we determine that they're illegal immigrants. We're just asking -- the federal government is asking the jurisdiction to hold that person or, at the least -- now remember, there are places like San Francisco and New York, that won't even inform federal authorities that someone that the local jurisdiction has arrested, been identified as an illegal immigrant, they won't even let them know that that person is about to be released.
CAMAROTATrump's position is essentially that, if you don't think that illegal aliens who get arrested and are in jail should be deported, well then really you're against any kind of immigration enforcement. Because that's the bare minimum. Someone who's in a jail and been arrested should be deported. If you think not, then what you're really saying is, we really shouldn't have immigration enforcement. We should have, in effect, de facto open borders.
REHMAnd what do you say to that, Angela?
KELLEYWow. I'm pretty stunned that we got all the way to open borders. I mean, look, the courts have ruled very clearly on this, that you can't hold someone on a detainer without a warrant. You have to have probable cause. So in the world that Steve wants us to live in, if ICE has a warrant for somebody, then they should execute that and they can get that person. Nobody is saying that we shouldn't enforce our immigration laws. Our immigration laws are really tough. It's very hard to come into this country legally and it's hard to enter this country illegally, because we actually have very effective enforcement at the border.
KELLEYThe question is, what are we going to do with the 11 million people who are here, as we go into an administration next year that seems hell-bent, frankly, on deporting them?
REHMAnd joining us now by phone from Seattle, Wash., is Mayor Edward Murray. He recently signed an executive order affirming Seattle's policies that protect undocumented immigrants. Thanks for joining us.
MAYOR EDWARD MURRAYThank you for having me on.
REHMI know you signed an executive order last month affirming Seattle as a, quote, "Welcoming City." Tell us what this order does.
MURRAYWell maybe I could reframe who we're talking about, as opposed to the speaker who claimed that we're having open borders. The morning after the election, I gave a press conference affirming our position as an open and welcoming city. I got calls from schools all around our city. I went out to an eight-grade classroom of high-achieving students, almost entirely Latino or Muslim. And as I talked to those children, I realized a good number of them were actually undocumented themselves. They're scared. They've lived here their whole lives. They don't know Mexico. They've never lived there. They came as toddlers. Their parents have taken jobs that no one else will take and they are paying taxes.
MURRAYSo if you frame it that way, what we are doing and what we are saying is, you are not going to take our neighbors away. You are not going to take our children away. You know, cities have always depended on immigration to work, to get innovation, to get small businesses, to create a good economy. So, you know, the order comes down to basically that, you're here. We're going to offer you services. We have no intention of cooperating in your deportation.
REHMTell me how Seattle handles those federal requests to detain undocumented immigrants.
MURRAYSo the jails actually, under the control of the county -- and to some extent that rests with the county -- we're not interested in, if we stop someone because they're undocumented, we stop someone on a traffic stop or the like and they're undocumented, we're simply not going to cooperate. If it is a felony, that's a different situation.
REHMNow, are you concerned about President-elect Trump's promise to withhold federal funding from cities that don't cooperate with federal agents?
MURRAYYou know, we're absolutely concerned. The federal government gives cities like ours money for human services. It helps with transportation. But also remember, Seattle has about a $5 billion budget. About $85 million of that a year is federal money. The federal government has stepped back from the responsibility to be partners with cities for 35 years. The discussion we should be having is not about cutting cities, but about supporting cities, the federal government supporting us. Because we are the revenue generators in this country. That's where the economy is happening.
REHMSo you're not going to worry, if...
MURRAYOh, as I said...
REHM...he does withhold?
MURRAY...of course -- of course we're concerned -- $85 million is no small number. But, still, out of a $5 billion budget and the federal government has consistently cut money for affordable housing. My city stepped up this last year and by a 70 percent vote doubled their own taxes to build affordable housing.
REHMAll right. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." So Mayor Murray, I gather you do not call Seattle a sanctuary city. How come?
MURRAYSo a sanctuary city is -- has -- you know, this is a term that doesn't necessarily -- there's no set of legal, you know, it's a different interpretation, jurisdiction to jurisdiction. And different jurisdictions have different responsibilities. And before I became mayor, many years ago, when these ordinances were passed by the city council, they chose welcoming. We are an open-end and welcoming city.
REHMWhy do you feel so strongly about this?
MURRAYWell, because, you know, when I go into that school and I see those children who are scared and lived in the city their whole lives, when I meet their parents who are working hard in our hotels or in our hospital industry, or when I think about my grandparents, all who emigrated from Ireland, it puts it in a very different perspective.
MURRAYAnd the other thing I would add here, a few months ago I was with Bill Gates up in Vancouver, Wash., with the mayor of -- I'm sorry, Vancouver, British Columbia, with the mayor of Vancouver, British Columbia. They were opening up a Microsoft center just north of our border for other people that cannot get into this country because of our crazy, crazy immigration laws. So this isn't about some people who are committing criminal activities. This is about tens of thousands of people who are either doing jobs at the low end or doing jobs at the high end, that we have no consistent immigration policy.
REHMHow concerned are you about how President-elect Trump may change these policies?
MURRAYYou know, one hoped after the election that maybe he ran from the extreme right and would moderate himself. But after his most recent speech where he gave a, you know, his victory-lap speech, it was a frightening speech, something I expected out of a South American dictator, not from somebody who is about to become the most powerful man in the country. I am deeply, deeply concerned about this issue as well as civil liberties in general. I am actually not -- on one level I am not surprised, on the other level I am very surprised. Usually when people get elected, they step up and understand the Constitution and what they're elected to do. We're just not seeing that.
REHMSo what will you do if, indeed, there is the clampdown and the statement that the city of Seattle, Wash., will lose millions of dollars?
MURRAYWell, we will challenge it in court. We will work with our incredible federal delegation, Senator Patty Murray and Senator Maria Cantwell, to fight it in Congress. And, again, this is a city that five times in two years was willing to raise its own revenue for programs that we used to get money from the federal government for. I think if it is a choice between keeping our neighbors and our children in this city and/or having to raise our own taxes, I think the city would chose the latter.
REHMAnd you believe that Seattle residents will be willing to have their taxes raised in order to fight back on this issue?
MURRAYIt wouldn't be their first choice, but absolutely I believe that they will. Absolutely.
REHMEdward Murray, he's the mayor of Seattle, Wash. I want to thank you so much for joining us this morning.
MURRAYThank you for having me on. It's an honor.
REHMThank you. And we will take a short break here. When we come back, we'll get reaction to Mayor Murray's comments and take your calls as well. Stay with us.
REHMAnd welcome back as we talk about immigration, what may happen under a new administration led by Donald Trump. Steven Camarota, you heard Mayor Murray, the mayor of Seattle, Washington, speak very emotionally and strongly about why he believes Seattle will remain strong in protecting its citizens, illegal or otherwise. What is your reaction?
CAMAROTAWell most of what he said, of course, is irrelevant to the discussion we're having here. It's a fascinating question, what should be do about any amnesty, how do we -- if we want to have a large fraction of illegal immigrants legalized. Now obviously the mayor is very concerned about the illegal immigrants, the Americans who face the job competition or the Americans who have to send their kids to overcrowded schools because of illegal immigration. That doesn't seem to be his primary concern, but we could have that debate.
CAMAROTABut none of that is what we're talking about here. What we're talking about here is people who are arrested an in jails, and the immigration service says would you hold this person, we've identified them as someone who's been previously deported, has a serious crime, has immigration violations, and the jurisdiction says that we will not hold them even for 10 hours. That's what we're talking about. We will not cooperate. We don't even tell you that someone in our jail who's an illegal immigrant we're about to release them.
CAMAROTAThings are so bad that the Obama administration has put 10 jurisdiction on notice, and this is the Obama administration, which has kind of had a wink and a nod to this whole policy. These include New York, Chicago, the entire state of California, the city of Philadelphia, because they have gone so far as to not even have any communication with the immigration service. That's how bad -- and they have threatened to cut off Department of Justice funding. This is a very new development in the last few weeks.
REHMAll right, I'm going to open the phones now, first to Pat in Orlando, Florida, you're on the air.
PATThank you, Diane, and thanks for taking my call.
PATMy comment is just with regard to the statistics that were quoted. You know, I hear this a lot, and I've heard it today that, you know, so many percentage, I think the statement today was 63 percent of people that were released were -- had already been arrested previously, and then some percentage of them were arrested afterwards.
PATI'm a retired judge. I spent a lot of time in the courtroom with a lot of people who were brought over from the jail or that were in jail who were there as undocumented immigrants, and their crime was driving without a license. Of course they're driving with a license, they can't get a license, and so when I hear statistics like that, and we're calling these criminals in jail, I think it's important that we distinguish between what types of crimes are we talking about, and I don't think it's a fair representation if we're saying 63 percent were convicted of driving without a license before, and now they're still driving without a license. And I guess I'd just like to hear the comments from your guests.
CAMAROTAWell, I didn't count those. I counted those with criminal convictions, 63 percent, and as I said, 25 percent of that, 17,000 people who are in our jails and purposefully released, 25 percent within less than a year had been re-arrested for new crimes including murder, rape and robbery. Now sure some of it is just a third drunk driving conviction, it depends on how you feel about that, but the point here is twofold.
CAMAROTAOne, it's a public safety issue. Immigrant communities are often the victims of these individuals, and there's no good evidence that reporting of crime declines when you have this kind of just common-sense cooperation.
REHMMuzaffar, do you want to comment?
CHISHTIWell yeah, I mean, I think the judge had made the point, I think, extremely well that these things get broad-brushed, that whenever you're going to use the word criminal it conjures up memories of this is a murderer, this is a rapist. The only numbers I'm going to quote are the numbers that come from DHS, is the last time DHS looked at, there were about 1.9 million foreign-born people in this country who have criminal convictions. That's also (unintelligible) which makes removal. And that's -- includes people who are lawful permanent residents, that includes people who are here on -- entered on legal visas and here on temporary stays.
CHISHTIIf you look just at the unauthorized part of that population, it's about 820,000. Of those, about 300,000 have been found guilty and convicted of a felony. So it's a much smaller number when you actually start making distinctions among the subsets of this population. And we should all be focused on that subset. We don't have in this country the resources enough to remove any number of people that President-elect Trump may think we have.
CHISHTIIn a world of limited resources, you have to draw priorities, and that's precisely what the attempt of any good, smart administration should be. If the 300,000 people are the ones that deserve to be removed first, we should have a targeted policy that gets us there as against putting large number of people in the funnel of removal, which then doesn't allow us to go after the really most dangerous people.
CAMAROTALook, these are the individuals -- the Obama administration has really pulled back from a lot of enforcement, but these are the individuals that the Obama DHS and Justice Department asked these jurisdictions to hold, people they had serious concerns about, people who had committed violent crimes, and they're not even holding them. And it is a terrible idea for a local jurisdiction to substitute its judgment about how someone -- how dangerous someone is over the Department of Homeland Security, which has access to all the information.
CAMAROTAAgain, these are individuals who have been arrested, and it's not everyone. They're not asking them even to hold everyone. That's an interesting argument, we could talk about that. They asked to hold these 17,000 people who they do have the resources to deport, who are in our jails, and the jurisdiction said no, and we won't even tell you when we're releasing them.
KELLEYI mean, I think that Muzaffar has given us real clarity on how to break this down and what -- who -- what the population is. But I think what's really been most fascinating in this conversation is that you have a mayor of a major city in the United States, a city that's thriving, and he's made it really clear the way that he sees immigrant population being very much a part of the city's population and what -- what he believes is best for his city.
KELLEYAnd then a former judge, who knows firsthand that we can just have broad, sweeping policies that really undermine, in fact, making communities safer. So I feel like it's really the people who are on the ground and working in the community that I think should be the ones leading the policies and that President-elect Trump is on a collision course with these state and local entities, from college presidents to mayor to police chiefs. And that's worrisome.
REHMLet's go to Meredith in Fort Worth, Texas, you're on the air.
MEREDITHHi, thanks for taking my call. I had a question for the panel with a comment first. My comment is that I'm disturbed to find out that local jurisdictions may and can and do release committed criminals, as in they have been either caught in the commission of a crime or, you know, the due process of that, and that they are being released, and we're not knowing about it.
MEREDITHSo my question to the panel is, what would be a reasonable time, because we know our government takes time to do its work properly, for a known criminal to be held so that the government can do its job properly?
CAMAROTAWell I would point out, first off, that the government has a whole program, it's called the SCAT Program, that compensates for people being held. So if they ask you to hold, and you have to hold that individual, they'll pay you for the days that that person is in your jail and prison. Most of the time they come within 48 hours. There's very few cases where that doesn't happen. There might be a jurisdiction out in the middle of nowhere, and it takes a while to get out there, but in these big cities, the timeframe is usually very short, and yet they still released 17,000 people after DHS asked them to hold them.
REHMI wonder, Muzaffar, if you could talk about those 17,000 people.
CHISHTIWell, we don't know what the 17,000 people, how we categorize them, but I think again to make the point that this is about local jurisdictions making judgments about the safety of their own cities and localities, that they look at the profile of a person, they say what is the probability that the person is going to be a safety risk on our streets. On the basis of that judgment, they release that judgment, and I think most people would agree that the decision about what is -- what is safe and unsafe in the local jurisdiction is best made by the local police chiefs. And if they have made that decision, I think there's reason to believe that that should probably override the decision made by a general policy of Immigration and Customs Enforcement made without taking into account the level of danger that that person presents.
CAMAROTAYeah, look, I mean, the bottom line is this is incredibly hypocritical. When states and localities were trying to help the federal government, like Arizona, these same groups like Angie and my other panelists were saying look, immigration law should be entirely a federal function. Now what we have is the federal government is moving to enforce the law, and the same groups are arguing that the federal government can actually deny and undermine federal immigration law. It's really a kind of neo-confederate-like argument for nullification, whereas Muzaffar said the local jurisdiction should be able to substitute its judgment for the DHS.
CAMAROTARemember, we were talking -- and all these statistics relate to the Obama DHS, and so it's been pretty weak on all of these issues, and yet the jurisdictions still are said to be able to define and have their own immigration policy, in effect.
CHISHTICan I just add something?
REHMTo Dominic in Manhattan, New York.
DOMINICHi, you know, something that's been -- you know, I think we need to make perfectly clear is that, you know, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, you know, it has issued detainers. You know, this is simply the start of an investigation. And, you know, a lot of these sheriffs that have these policies nationwide, they're, you know, Republican sheriffs. They -- you know, they don't want to hold somebody and then find out that they're a U.S. citizen and end up getting sued.
DOMINICYou know, within a four-year period, over 800 U.S. citizens were held on detainers, and, you know, I just -- you know, as Steven has said over and over again, you know, like this is somebody that ICE knows is in the country illegally, and many times that has proven to be patently false.
KELLEYYeah you can't tell looking at somebody whether they're undocumented or not. So that's exactly the problem is that detainer requests are triggered when a person's arrested, even if that person's been never charged with a crime and was mistakenly arrested, or they have an old conviction for a minor offense. This is why courts have ruled you can't do this.
KELLEYWhat ICE can do is, if it has a warrant, it can issue a warrant. But in the absence of that, to have police just hold people because they think they might be here illegally even when they haven't been, you know, charged with a crime, that puts us in a very precarious situation as a society.
CAMAROTANo, I mean, look, there has been very few cases of that recently, and what the immigration service is asking is to be able to come and interview that person to make a quick determination, and these police -- well, as I say, the vast majority of sheriffs do cooperate. It's only a small fraction that don't. Ninety percent do because they recognize the public safety element here, and what the immigration service is asking to do is come and interview that person and make a quick determination.
CAMAROTAAnd what these jurisdictions are saying is we're going to substitute our judgment, and the vast majority, 99 percent, are people here are illegally, 99.999 percent. The American citizens who have been held is a very tiny number, and it doesn't happen recently anymore.
REHMAnd you're listening to the Diane Rehm Show. Let's go to Louie in Orlando, Florida, you're on the air.
LOUIEHey, Diane, great discussion. I am a victim, back in the '80s, when I was a lot younger, I got out of the Marine Corps, and my brother offered to take me out fishing on my dad's boat. We got boatjacked off of an area called Stiltsville in Biscayne National Park. We managed to escape. We got -- we took gunfire, kept on our boat with bullets, and it was an illegal Bahamian and an illegal Colombian, and they were stealing boats. You remember Miami in the '80s was the cocaine cowboy era, and they would steal boats, go to the Bahamas, load up and come back.
LOUIEThey tried to steal ours, and we went to trial. They each got over 10 years in prison because they had robbed other boats. They had done a long string of robberies. And what I understood at the time is they did their -- over 10 years in jail, plus they were deported after that.
LOUIEI don't want cats like that in my freakin' country. So how can people not want those kind of cats to be out? I don't get it. I want all the DACA, wonderful kids that are super-bright that came here as babies to stay, but when you say that those guys are staying, you fight so hard. These people on the show that are fighting to keep these violent criminals here, they don't -- they won't admit there is these type of violent criminals that have go to.
REHMMuzaffar, do you want to comment?
CHISHTIWell, I think that's an excellent point. That's exactly -- no one should be able to defend a criminal like that. People who have that kind of history should be removed as quickly as we can. They should be the highest priority.
CHISHTII don't think anyone is arguing against that. It is that, though, we must have the ability to make distinctions between one group of people with offenses and the other, and that's what the local jurisdictions are trying to do.
KELLEYYeah, I completely agree, and I mean, look, the reality is that we've got a very complex, diverse society that people who break the laws, who commit the kind of crimes that the caller had to endure absolutely should be convicted, serve jail time and be deported. There is nobody that is defending that kind of individual. But the caller also mentioned the DACA kids, which I think does go to show the complexity of the population, where you have 700,000 young people who have come forward, their information is sitting in DHS, their parents' information is sitting in DHS, and now with the advent of a Trump administration, they're terrified.
KELLEYAnd the -- and that's why you're seeing the kind of response from university presidents, from faith leaders, from mayors, from law enforcement that are saying, well, wait a minute, we can't go to either extreme, but really look at the population and make decisions about what we're going to do.
REHMWhat are university presidents saying?
KELLEYYou know, it's pretty fascinating. There was a letter that was started from a small college in California, Pomona, and it was a -- it's basically a sign-on letter of university presidents that has ballooned and is now I think pushing 500. It was 491 colleges and university presidents that signed it. And what they said is really I think pretty powerful.
KELLEYWhat the letter says, and I'll just read from it very, very briefly, to our country's leaders, we say that DACA should be upheld and continued and expanded. We're prepared to meet with you and present our case. This both a moral imperative and national necessity. America needs talent, and these students who have been raised and educated in the United States are already part of our national community. They represent what is best about America. And to scholars and leaders, they are central to our future.
KELLEYSo you have from the president of Princeton to the president of Prince George's Community College in Maryland signing on and saying this is our future.
REHMAll right, we're going to leave it at that. Angela Kelley, she's with the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Steven Camarota is director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, and Muzaffar Chishti is director of the Migration Policy Institute's office at the New York University School of Law. Thank you all.
CAMAROTAThanks for having me.
CHISHTIThank you for having us.
KELLEYThank you, Diane.
REHMAnd thanks, all, for listening, I'm Diane Rehm.
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