Meet America’s Ten Worst Sanctuary Communities

Press Releases

September 24, 2019

Home cities of Reps. Pelosi, AOC and Omar rank 1-2-3 on “List of Shame”

WASHINGTON—Calling attention to a grave threat to our country, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) has released its list of America’s Ten Worst Sanctuary Communities.

IRLI compiled the list based on crime statistics obtained by its Investigations department and the details of particularly egregious crimes since each community adopted its sanctuary policies.

The rankings are as follows:

1. San Francisco, California

2. New York City, New York

3. Minneapolis, Minnesota

4. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

5. Seattle, Washington

6. Chicago, Illinois

7. TIE: Montgomery County, Maryland and Fairfax County, Virginia

8. Prince George’s County, Maryland

9. Boston, Massachusetts

10. Santa Clara County, California

(Details on each community are below)

Some of the most outrageous findings in the data include:

Sanctuary policies often prohibit local law enforcement personnel from cooperating with requests from ICE to hold illegal aliens in police custody for possible deportation. These policies release dangerous foreign nationals into communities, often resulting in violence and even death.

Against all logic, sanctuary policies have become fashionable for many local political leaders. They cite “compassion” and “inclusion” as their justifications, but ignore the widespread suffering and death that are the inevitable consequences of sanctuary policies.

Sanctuary policies are absolute poison for America,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “They are unconstitutional—a violation of the Supremacy Clause—and threaten the integrity of our republic. More importantly, sanctuary policies bring violent crime and murder that is entirely preventable.

This is a list of shame,” he added. “Political leaders who advocate for and defend sanctuary policies are directly responsible for the lawlessness and human suffering they have inflicted on their communities. The law-abiding, legal residents of these communities need to know that their leaders have prioritized the interests of often violent illegal aliens over them.”

Note:The data used for this report are the results of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by IRLI to ICE for records regarding the number of ICE detainers for criminal and illegal aliens ignored by law enforcement agencies for a 27-month period ending on December 31, 2017. ICE classifies each detainer request as threat levels 1, 2, or 3 offenses. Threat level 1 and 2 offenses include but are not limited to, homicide, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, drugs, burglary, fraud, and larceny. Level 3 offenses are other crimes, primarily misdemeanors.

#1 – San Francisco, California

Mayor: London Breed

The City by the Bay’s shameless preening as a sanctuary city is well known. Unfortunately, that trendy posturing comes with a body count. Just ask the families of Kate Steinle and Drew Rosenberg, who lost their loved ones to senseless deaths. The illegal alien who shot Kate admitted he came to San Francisco because of its permissiveness toward illegal aliens.

Since these deaths drew national attention, San Francisco has doubled down on protecting criminal aliens from apprehension. During an 11-month period, the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) arrested a 23-year-old Honduran national ten times on various criminal charges including, burglary, vehicle theft, possession of burglary tools, receiving stolen property, and evading a peace officer. In each case, ICE issued a detainer request to the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department (SFSD), but the SFSD ignored all of them and released him back into the community.

In a similar case, the SFPD arrested a 41-year-old Honduran national twice for burglary, obstructing a public officer, and transporting and selling a controlled substance. Again, ICE placed detainers against him, but the SFSD ignored them. In both cases, the criminal aliens remain at large.

Prior to the passage of SB 54 making California a sanctuary state, the SFSD refused to honor over 530 immigration holds, 345 of which ICE classified as threat level 1 and 2 offenses.

More recently, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) asked San Francisco to make an exception to its sanctuary policies so it could extradite to the United States Mohamed Ben Azaza, a rape suspect, green card holder and Syrian national who fled to Canada. After three city supervisors initially approved the exception, the full board voted it down with a sanctimonious rebuke. “Asking us to violate our sanctuary policies can never happen again,” said Supervisor Shamann Walton.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who represents California’s 12th district in San Francisco, recently criticized ICE’s efforts to deport criminal aliens, asking, “In terms of interior enforcement, what is the purpose? What is the point?” When President Trump described violent MS-13 gang members as “animals,” Pelosi replied, “There’s a spark of divinity in every person on Earth.”

#2 – New York City, New York

Mayor: Bill deBlasio

New York City (NYC) likes to call itself the safest big city in America. Since 2014, the city has declined a majority of ICE detainer requests and do not allow ICE agents access to the Rikers Island Correctional Facility when illegal aliens are released. Under New York City law, police are supposed to turn over to ICE aliens convicted of one of 170 violent or serious crimes within the last five years, which include such crimes as homicide, rape, and robbery, or turnover aliens listed on a terrorist database. It appears, however, that NYC is not complying with its law in all cases.

The New York Police Department (NYPD) and the New York City Department of Corrections (NYDOC) failed to honor over 1,900 ICE detainer requests, of which, almost 1,300 ICE classified as threat level 1 and 2 offenses.

Over the first three months of 2018, NYC released 440 “dangerous” offenders sought for deportation, and 10 percent went on to commit more crime. An ICE spokesperson said at the time, “Nearly 40 individuals who were released from custody, reoffended and were again arrested for crimes by local law enforcement officers.”

The New York Daily News also reported that from July 1, 2018 to June of this year, NYPD refused another 2,900 ICE detainers.

Not surprisingly, shootings in the city have skyrocketed. They were up 27 percent in the month of June, from 70 in 2018 to 89 in 2019. Shootings are also up so far this year, with 337 at this point in 2018 compared to 361 this year.

In one case, the New York Post accused the NYPD of shielding an MS-13 gang member and illegal alien Ramiro Gutierrez from public scrutiny following his arrest for allegedly killing a rival gang member in front of numerous bystanders. According to the Post, NYPD fed reporters bogus information about Gutierrez’ whereabouts and claimed ignorance on his illegal status.

Police had arrested Gutierrez 13 times before, four of which were felonies. Prior to the shooting, Gutierrez was out on bond awaiting trial on felony conspiracy charges. NYC never notified ICE it was releasing him from custody.

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents New York’s 14th district in the city, has called for the abolishment of ICE and described border detention facilities as “concentration camps.”

#3 – Minneapolis, Minnesota

Mayor: Jacob Frey

Minneapolis elected officials have been diligently working to increase the city’s profile as a sanctuary city. Mayor Frey clashed with local police last year by mandating a “Know Your ICE Rights” placard be visible in city police cars. The signs notify illegal aliens under arrest that they do not have to answer questions about where they were born, their immigration status, or whether they are a U.S. citizen.

Minneapolis-St. Paul is home to an estimated 100,000 Somalis, many of whom arrived as refugees in the 1990s. The neighborhood of Cedar-Riverside in Hennepin County, also known as Little Mogadishu, has become the unofficial Somali capital of America.

Little Mogadishu has seen violent crimes jump by roughly 56 percent from 2010 to 2018. Authorities attribute the violence to rivalries between Somali gangs such as the Somali Mafia, the Somali Outlaws, the Hot Boyz, and Madhibaan [a Somali ethnic group] with Attitude.

Moreover, FBI stats show 45 Somalis left to join the ranks of either the Somalia-based Islamic insurgency al-Shabab, or the Iraq- and Syria-based ISIS. As of 2018, authorities arrested a dozen more who intended to leave and support ISIS. Both numbers are far higher than those of alleged terrorist wannabes who left or attempted to leave the country from other areas in the country where Muslim refugees have been resettled.

IRLI found that the Hennepin County Jail failed to honor over 90 ICE detainer requests. ICE classified over 40 of them as threat level 1 and 2 offenses, of which, 26 percent of the detainer requests were for criminal illegal aliens from Somalia.

ICE records also revealed that as of June 2018, there were almost 9,000 Somalis living in the United States that have final orders of deportation or pending final orders of deportation.

While Somali gangs and jihadist recruits plague the city, Mayor Frey has doubled down on his city’s sanctuary policies, saying that the “Minneapolis Police have not and will not cooperate with, nor participate in, any such ICE activity. Minneapolis officials are prohibited from taking any action to detect or apprehend people based solely on their immigration status. Our entire city is proud to stand in solidarity with our immigrant brothers, sisters, and neighbors.”

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, who represents the 5th congressional district in the city, sought to intervene for a group of six Minneapolis-area Somalis arrested in 2015 for trying to cross into Mexico as part of a plan to join ISIS in Syria. As the case went to trial the following year, the then-state representative wrote a letter to the trial judge requesting “compassion” – and lighter sentencing on behalf of one of the Minnesota men, who was facing 30 years jail time.

This past month, the FBI arrested two Somali refugees for conspiring to provide material support to ISIS. According to the FBI affidavit, one of them said to an FBI undercover agent that he wanted to travel to the Middle East, fight with ISIS, and be the “new jihadi John.” The other Somali told the agent that he would “kill so many people” and that he wanted “to be on the front line.”

#4 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Mayor: Jim Kenney

Who could forget the video of Mayor Kenney last summer dancing in celebration after a federal judge ruled in favor of the city’s sanctuary lawsuit against the Trump administration’s attempt to withhold federal grant money to the city? The city’s communications director Deana Gamble said at the time, “Mayor Kenney displayed excitement because it was an important moment for all Philadelphians, especially our immigrant community.”

Just a week later after Mayor Kenney’s celebratory dance, the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) charged Guillermo Leon-Sandoval, a 35-year-old Mexican national with unlawful bodily injury, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, and false imprisonment. A court convicted Leon-Sandoval of illegal entry in 2014. Although ICE had an arrest warrant for him issued by a U.S. District Court judge and placed a detainer with PPD to have him turned over to them upon his release, PPD released him on his own recognizance without notifying ICE.

Over a month later, police arrested Juan Ramon-Vasquez, a 45-year-old Honduran national, for raping a five-year-old girl for 18 months. PPD previously ignored an ICE detainer on Ramon-Vasquez, who had been deported from the United States in 2009, rearrested in 2014, and released him back into the community.

“The facts of this case illustrate all too well the direct threat to public safety caused by the City of Philadelphia’s sanctuary city policies,” said U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain. “After the City let this criminal loose on the streets of Philadelphia, Ramon-Vasquez repeatedly raped an innocent child. If the ICE detainer had been honored by local law enforcement, this crime never would have happened, and the victim would have been spared horrendous physical and mental trauma.”

As with other sanctuary cities who fail to follow the rule of law, Philadelphia is no different when it comes to homicides and violent crimes. Philadelphia has seen an increase of over 27 percent in homicides from 2017 to 2018. As of July 30, 2019, shootings are up 3 percent and homicides are up more than 6 percent from last year, in which the city saw its highest number of homicides in a decade at 353. Of the almost 100 ICE detainer requests PPD ignored, almost 60 of them were for threat level 1 and 2 offenses.

With crime running rampant in the city, Mayor Kenney is joining forces with the Vera Institute of Justice to provide lawyers for illegal aliens facing deportation. Kenney said the program would help Philadelphia “remain a place where everyone, including immigrants, feels safe and welcome.”

According to the City of Philadelphia’s website, the number one goal for Mayor Kenney is “public safety.” Providing free legal representation on the backs of taxpayers for illegal aliens to avoid deportation not only endangers Americans, but it also encourages more illegal immigration and provides a safety net for them when arrested by ICE.

Philadelphia’s district attorney, Larry Krasner, even ensures that noncitizen criminals are less likely to receive jail time. Krasner has hired a taxpayer-funded lawyer to offer sweetheart deals to noncitizen criminals to help them avoid deportation.

So far, more than 120 criminals have gotten lenient sentences just because they are noncitizens. These criminals include weapon-equipped batterers, thieves, drug dealers, sex offenders, and domestic abusers.

#5 – Seattle, Washington

Mayor: Jenny Durkan

Seattle has been in the news this year for its exploding homeless problem, but the city is quickly gaining a reputation for its dangerous sanctuary policies.

Mayor Durkan has been vocal in her criticism of President Trump’s immigration policies, writing in an op-ed in The Washington Post, “We will not allow a president who continues to threaten our shared values of inclusion, opportunity and diversity to jeopardize the health and safety of our communities.”

The mayor’s public commitment to safety does not match her results. In June of this year police released Francisco Carranza-Ramirez, a Mexican national, after serving nine months in prison for raping a wheelchair-bound disabled woman. Local law enforcement did not notify ICE per the city’s sanctuary policies. Three days after his release, Carranza-Ramirez allegedly went to the victim’s home, dumped her out of her wheelchair and assaulted her in front of her three-year-old son.

A recent IRLI investigation in July found that the Seattle area’s King County Sheriff’s Office refused over 370 ICE detainer requests on illegal aliens. Over 290 of the cases were for threat level 1 and 2 offenses.

#6 – Chicago, Illinois

Mayor: Lori Lightfoot

Rather than address their city’s lethal crime rate, one of the nation’s highest, Chicago’s leaders are instead focused on positioning it as a leading sanctuary community. Mayor Lightfoot recently touted her commitment to defying federal law, stating, “[The Chicago Police Department] will not cooperate with or facilitate any ICE enforcement. I have directed and Superintendent [Eddie] Johnson has confirmed that CPD has terminated ICE’s access to CPD’s databases related to federal immigration enforcement activities.”

In 2012, Chicago passed the “Welcoming City Ordinance,” which prohibited law enforcement and other agencies from inquiring about the immigration status of any person. Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at the time, “You’re going to be safe here. You are going to be secure here. You’re going to be supported here.”

At the end of 2012, Chicago was the nation’s murder capital, recording more than 500 homicides. Compounding Chicago’s crime problem is a steady supply of drugs from Mexican drug cartels, most notably the Sinaloa Cartel, whose former leader was Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera. Also known as “El Chapo,” a federal jury recently convicted him of drug trafficking and a court sentenced him to life in prison.

With Chicago’s large Mexican and Hispanic immigrant population, the cartels recruit Mexican operatives who are in the United States illegally and who blend in with the population as drivers, lookouts, distributors, stash house operators, money couriers, and enforcers.

Derek Maltz, former head of the Drug Enforcement Administration special operations division, recently said gang violence on the streets of cities such as Chicago and Baltimore is “a hundred percent” tied to Mexican cartels.

Chicago has had about 612 homicides on average for the last two years. So far this year, Chicago has already had 293 homicides and is on pace to see as many as 500 to 550 murders before the end of the year.

During the 2018 Illinois governor’s race, former Governor Rauner blamed immigrants living in the country illegally for contributing to Chicago gun violence by taking away jobs from citizens in neighborhoods with high unemployment.

Although Chicago continues to outpace New York City and Los Angeles in homicides, each of which have larger populations, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) and CPD have refused to work with ICE. Of the over 200 ICE detainer requests CCSO and CPD refused to honor, over 100 of them were for threat level 1 and 2 offenses, of which, 72 percent were Mexican nationals.

#7 – TIE: Montgomery County, Maryland and Fairfax County, Virginia

Montgomery County, Maryland

County Executive: Marc Elrich

The prosperous Washington, D.C. suburb just enacted sanctuary policies in July of this year, and the predictable spike in criminal activity did not take long to emerge. As of this reporting, police have arrested more than ten illegal aliens for allegedly committing ten sexual assaults since July 25. The alleged offenses include the rape of an 11-year-old girl by two men, the molestation of a 12-year-old girl and her younger brother, the rape of a 16-year-old girl at knifepoint, and the rape of a six-year old.

Most of the men arrested were from the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The county’s new policy says that law enforcement is prohibited from turning over an alleged criminal alien without a judicial warrant, which creates an impediment to further detention and deportation by ICE. The immigration system only requires an administrative warrant for ICE to take custody of an alien after a detainer request.

The alleged crimes are not uncommon in sanctuary communities. What garnered Montgomery County national attention was the stunning arrogance of county leaders in response to the crime spree. Despite a policy that shields criminal aliens from deportation, Elrich denied in a recent interview that Montgomery is a sanctuary county and instead accused ICE and President Trump of terrorizing immigrants.

As public outrage over the alleged crimes grew, the county council released a statement defending the sanctuary policy and comparing critics of the policy, including journalists and Acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli, to neo-Nazi sympathizers.

Fairfax County, Virginia

County Chair: Sharon Bulova; County Executive: Bryan Hill

Fairfax, another suburban Washington, D.C. county, recently celebrated its decision to refuse cooperation with ICE detainer requests. At the time an “immigrant rights” group stated, “This is a victory for immigrant residents in Fairfax County. This is a step in the right direction and a way to restore trust within the immigrant community.”

One month after the sanctuary policy went into effect, police charged 11 alleged MS-13 members with kidnapping and conspiracy to commit murder for the deaths of two teenagers. Fairfax County Commonwealth’s attorney said the suspects conspired to kill one of the victims, a 14-year-old, because they believed he was working with law enforcement.

In March of this year, a court sentenced Darwin Martinez Torres, an illegal alien from El Salvador, to life in prison for murder. Torres pleaded guilty to attacking 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen with a baseball bat, raping and killing her in Fairfax County.

#8 – Prince George’s County, Maryland

County Executive: Angela Alsobrooks

Located adjacent to Washington, D.C., Prince George’s County was recently the scene of another preventable murder. In May, police arrested two illegal alien members of the violent El Salvadorian MS-13 gang for the murder of a 14-year-old girl. They allegedly led their victim to a wooded area, beat her with a baseball bat, and stabbed her to death with a machete.

Before this crime, the county had released the two men last year after charging them with attempted first- and second-degree murder, participation in gang activity, conspiracy to commit murder and attempted robbery. ICE had sent the county a detainer request so the men could be deported. The Prince George’s County Department of Corrections (DOC) denied the request.“These individuals had demonstrated violent criminal behavior before,” an ICE official said in a statement, “and because they were released in spite of the lawful detainer, they were afforded an opportunity to take a life.”

To protect the gang and to enhance its reputation, MS-13 members and associates often use any means necessary to force respect, including acts of intimidation and violence. MS-13’s creed is based on one of its mottos, “Mata, roba, viola, controla,” which translates to, “kill, steal, rape, control.”

In response to a FOIA lawsuit filed by IRLI, ICE released records regarding DOC’s failure to honor ICE detainer requests. Almost 40 were for illegal aliens from El Salvador and for offenses classified by ICE as threat level 1 and 2 offenses.

The Washington Post reported last year on MS-13’s stranglehold on a Maryland middle school. “Gang-related fights are now a near-daily occurrence at Wirt [Middle School], where a small group of suspected MS-13 members at the overwhelmingly Hispanic school in Prince George’s County throw gang signs, sell drugs, draw gang graffiti and aggressively recruit students recently arrived from Central America. Most of the parents and teachers interviewed asked not to be identified for fear of losing their jobs or being targeted by MS-13.”

The city of College Park, located in the county, also made news this year when it became the largest U.S. city to allow noncitizens to vote in municipal elections.

#9 – Boston, Massachusetts

Mayor: Marty Walsh

Agents in ICE’s Boston field office in May arrested Francisco Cuxum Alvarado, a 64-year-old illegal alien from Guatemala. Cuxum Alvarado was hiding in Waltham, Massachusetts, a suburb outside of Boston, to avoid charges in his homeland on crimes against humanity involving the rape and mass murder of at least 70 women and 107 children.

Authorities alleged that Cuxum Alvarado was a member of the Civil Defense Patrol also known as the PAC in Rabinal, Guatemala. In 1998 he was named as a suspect in the March 13, 1982, massacre of women and children at Cerro Pacoxom.

In 2018, the Guatemalan government charged Cuxum Alvarado with crimes against humanity for participating in the mass sexual assault of Maya Achi women in and around Rabinal.

Councilor-at-Large Carlos Vidal said “Waltham is a community that has always been a welcoming community to all immigrants, going back to the Industrial Revolution. Regardless of where they were born, or their ethnic heritage, all immigrants are welcome in Waltham.”

Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Lawrence, Newton, Northampton and Amherst are all considered sanctuary cities where they routinely ignore ICE detainers.

“Mr. Cuxum Alvarado is in Massachusetts illegally, evading accountability for human rights violations in Guatemala,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. “While many immigrants come to this country seeking a better life, Mr. Cuxum Alvarado came here illegally, to escape a dark, criminal past. This case highlights the important work of Homeland Security Investigations and ICE in identifying and removing war criminals, human rights violators, and other dangerous aliens who illegally seek a safe haven in the United States.”

Todd Lyons, acting ICE field office director for Boston, said, “Sanctuary cities need to see the bigger picture. When states or municipalities establish themselves as a ‘sanctuary’ for immigration law violators, the innocent suffer.”

Lyons also said, “Not cooperating with federal immigration enforcement only poses a greater public safety risk.”

Cuxum Alvarado returned to the United States after being deported in 2004. He was later indicted on one count of unlawful reentry into the United States of a deported alien and is currently awaiting further hearings regarding his extradition back to Guatemala.

#10 – Santa Clara County, California

Board of Supervisors

Like San Francisco, its neighbor to the north, Santa Clara County also seems to prioritize shielding criminal illegal aliens over protecting its citizens.

As an example, the San Jose Police Department arrested a 26-year-old Mexican national seven times on various charges, including obstructing a police officer, possession of a controlled substance, vehicle theft, receiving stolen property, trespassing, and possession of burglary tools. In each case, ICE issued a detainer, but the Santa Clara Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) ignored six of them. ICE is awaiting whether they will honor their latest detainer request.

The SCSO has refused to honor over 1,600 immigration holds, of which ICE classified over 900 of them as threat level 1 and 2 offenses.

Earlier this year, police arrested Carlos Eduardo Arevalo Carranza, an illegal alien from El Salvador, for allegedly beating and stabbing Bambi Larson to death in her San Jose home. Reports later disclosed that police had previously arrested Carranza 10 times for drugs, kidnapping, battery against a police officer, and burglary. ICE had requested an immigration hold on Carranza seven times, but the SCSO refused every request.

How did Santa Clara County respond to this tragic, preventable loss of life? In June, the county supervisors convened and voted 5-0 to continue their policy of refusing to cooperate with detainer requests from ICE.

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

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