California Leads the Way—In Shielding Terror State Illegal Aliens from Justice

Press Releases

May 9, 2019

IRLI investigation names states that protect potentiallydangerous aliens from ICE detainer requests

WASHINGTON—An investigation by the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) has identified states that have refused the most detainer requests for illegal aliens from countries that the United States considers sponsors of terrorism.

California, which has enacted broad “sanctuary” laws in defiance of federal immigration law, refused the most detainers during the time period of the investigation by far with 27. Other states that shielded aliens from terror states were Washington (8), Iowa and Minnesota (2). States with one refused detainer each were Arizona, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nebraska and Texas.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the IRLI, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released records revealing that at least 25 state and local law enforcement agencies and jails nationwide failed to honor ICE detainer requests on illegal aliens who posed an imminent threat to Americans. This refusal prevented ICE agents from taking custody of them and shielded them from being interviewed. Most of these law enforcement agencies were from jurisdictions with sanctuary policies that prevent immigration enforcement.

For a 27-month period ending on December 31, 2017, law enforcement agencies and jails refused to honor 44 immigration holds on citizens from countries the United States has designated as state sponsors of terrorism, 39 of them were classified by ICE as threat level 1 and 2 offenses. These included, but were not limited to, homicide, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, drugs, burglary, and fraud.

State sponsors of terrorism are countries that the Secretary of State has determined have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism. Currently, there are four countries designated as such: Iran, Sudan, Syria, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea).

Of the aliens shielded by California in the investigation, 89 percent of them were Iranians. They were released before the passage of The California Values Act, also known as SB 54, which further limits law enforcement’s ability to cooperate and share immigration information with ICE. Some of them may have overstayed their visa, were granted refugee status or were able to illegally enter the United States through our porous border.

The United States has classified Iran as the foremost state sponsor of terrorism, alleging that Iran provides “a range of support, including financial, training, and equipment, to [terrorist] groups around the world – particularly Hezbollah.”

U.S. Intelligence officials and security experts recently testified in Congress about the existence of Iranian terrorist “sleeper cells” operating within the United States and just waiting to receive orders to act.

Former acting ICE Director Tom Homan said “when law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders, it undermines ICE’s ability to protect the public safety and carry out its mission.”

“Sanctuary laws are no longer a theoretical faculty lounge debate, they are causing very real threats to our safety as individuals and as a nation,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “Already there are innocent victims who have lost their lives as a result of sanctuary laws that defy common sense. If one of these aliens shielded from the law commits an act of mass terrorism, the politicians and activists who push for sanctuary laws will have a lot to answer for.”

For additional information, contact: Brian Lonergan • 202-232-5590 • [email protected]

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