The government’s top deportation official said Thursday he would be “ashamed” to be part of Montgomery County, where authorities working under the county’s sanctuary policy have released onto the streets a number of illegal immigrants charged with serious crimes in recent weeks.
Matt Albence, acting director at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said his agency has had meetings with county officials to try to work out better cooperation, but he added that it’s not clear what has come of that.
“If I worked in Montgomery County, I would be ashamed that I was turning criminal aliens back onto the street,” Mr. Albence said.
He spoke from the White House, where he announced he has deployed ICE officials to sanctuary jurisdictions across the country. He said he is asking the ICE officials to hold press conferences in an effort to cajole local officials to renounce their sanctuary policies and cooperate on deportations.
He said ICE just finished a nationwide sweep aimed at thousands of illegal immigrant fugitives. ICE agents arrested 1,300, he said, and nearly 200 of them had been released by localities under sanctuary policies.
“Who are these sanctuary cities really protecting?” Mr. Albence said.
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich issued an executive order this summer codifying the county’s sanctuary policy, which says it will not proactively communicate with ICE.
He said the county is not a sanctuary but acknowledged that the county bungled a case last month when it released on bond an illegal immigrant accused of second-degree rape, even though ICE sought to take the person into custody.
In the wake of that snafu, Mr. Elrich met with ICE officials on Sept. 11.
“While the meeting was generally introductory, I believe that the conversation was productive, and more discussions will follow,” the county executive, a Democrat, said at the time.
Asked for comment on Mr. Albence’s remarks Thursday, a county spokesperson referred The Washington Times to Mr. Elrich’s previous statement, in which he said the county’s policies are being misunderstood.
The number of sanctuary jurisdictions has soared since President Trump took office in 2017. Communities across the country have enacted policies to shield illegal immigrants from detection and justify it as a safety measure. They say immigrants will stop reporting crimes if authorities turn over illegals to ICE.
That’s bunk, said Mr. Albence. He said reporting of crimes involving immigrants has increased, based on the number of queries federal government databases receive from state and local law enforcement.
“Those numbers have gone up every year, which means more and more crimes involving aliens are being reported,” he said.
Mr. Albence said, however, that ICE arrests of criminals will fall this year for the first time in the Trump administration.
He blamed the illegal immigrant surge at the border, which forced the agency to pull agents and officers from operations in the interior of the country and deploy them to assist Customs and Border Protection.
Mr. Albence said there will be a “double-digit drop” in criminal migrant arrests for fiscal year 2019, which closes Monday.
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