Officials demand action from Congress and say 'enough is enough' when it comes to permitting sanctuary policies to take hold

by Kathryn Blackhurst | Updated 29 Mar 2018 at 7:24 AM

Four hundred sheriffs from across the nation are demanding that Congress act swiftly to pass legislation to secure U.S. borders and enforcing immigration laws, saying that “now is the time to act” by supporting law enforcement officials and putting U.S. citizens’ interests first.

The National Sheriffs’ Association and the Ohio Sheriffs’ Association sent a letter to Congress signed by 400 sheriffs. It urges lawmakers to support President Donald Trump’s immigration enforcement agenda.

Bristol County Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson from Massachusetts, who spearheaded the movement, said in a statement Wednesday that “we’re calling on Congress to take action now … against sanctuary policies in our states, cities and towns” that shield illegal immigrants and hinder cooperation with federal officials.

“Enough is enough,” Hodgson said. “These sanctuary policies, including the laws California enacted, directly undermine and limit cooperation and collaboration between local, state and federal law enforcement, making it harder for America’s sheriffs to protect our citizens and legal residents.”

California, in particular, entered 2018 as a “sanctuary state” that prohibited its law enforcement officials from fully cooperating with federal immigration enforcement officials. But on Tuesday, California’s Orange County voted to buck its state’s sanctuary policies by joining in a federal lawsuit against them.

The sheriffs said they “have been warning the federal government about detrimental increases in transnational drug trafficking, gang violence, sex trafficking, murder, and other escalating incidents of crime by illegal aliens entering our country” for years, but to no avail.

And now these 400 sheriffs are calling for further action to protect Americans in their counties.

"Congress' inaction undermines sheriffs' ability to protect our citizens," National Sheriffs' Association Executive Director Jonathan Thompson said Wednesday. "Sheriffs across this country have signed this letter because Congress cannot continue to weaken our efforts to make our communities as safe as possible."

Hodgson also recommended that lawmakers vote on and pass Rep. Bob Goodlatte's (R-Va.) Securing America's Future Act to boost border security, punish sanctuary counties and states and foster state, local and federal cooperation.

"This indicates that sheriffs are getting more and more impatient with sanctuaries and the failure of Congress to enact some more meaningful consequences for sanctuary policies," Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), told LifeZette in an email.

"They are tired of the politicization of immigration enforcement, and just want to be able to cooperate with [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] in the same manner that they cooperate with other federal and local law enforcement agencies," Vaughan added.

The sheriffs pledged in their letter to "stand firm with my fellow sheriffs throughout our nation to have our borders secured first, in full cooperation and support of our promise and mission to uphold and enforce our nation's laws, and we expect nothing less from Congress."

"Because Congress has failed to enact the necessary reforms, our citizens and legal residents face even greater dangers, our national security is more vulnerable, and our enforcement efforts have been seriously compromised," the letter continued, noting that lawmakers' inaction "has dramatically undermined our ability to keep our communities safe."

Further inaction will only "cost more innocent lives, more financial hardships, and an even greater decline in the public trust that is essential to the preservation of our Republic," the sheriffs said. "Without border security and immigration reform, more Americans will continue to be victims of crime. Now is the time to act!"

Vaughan said that the sheriffs issued their demands because they "know that there is something that can be done about this."

"All proponents of better border security, and especially the sheriffs, are concerned that Congress failed to give [the Department of Homeland Security] the resources it needs to put up more barriers, end catch and release, and take action against sanctuaries," Vaughan said.