Crackdown on so-called sanctuary cities, cause for concern locally

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- The federal government is planning to crack down on so-called sanctuary cities, and it’s causing some concern locally.

First, it was President Trump during his State of the Union.

“In sanctuary cities, local officials order police to release dangerous criminals to prey upon the public instead of handing them over to ice to be safely removed,” the president said.

Then, on Monday, Attorney General William Barr announced a review of places that may be standing in the way of deporting undocumented immigrants.

The United States Attorney for the District of Nebraska, stating in a press conference early Monday, law enforcement agencies across the state work in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security, and there are no sanctuary cities.

"Simply put there aren't any issues between federal and local authorities when it comes to immigration,” said District Attorney, Joe Kelly -- calling the cooperation key to public safety, pointing to the national numbers.

"Ten-thousand for sexual offenses, 1,800 for kidnapping, 45,000 for assault, 74,000 DUI's 67,000 for drug-related offenses,” said Shawn Byers, ICE deputy field office director.

It’s a misleading narrative said Alexis Steele, policy staff attorney with the Immigrant Legal Center; taking aim at the way 'charges' and 'convictions' are being lumped into the same category.

“When you present those numbers together you're getting a really incomplete picture of the actual landscape of what's happening,” said Steele, noting it’s bloating the federal government’s numbers. “Simply because someone is charged with something does not mean someone committed that crime or will indeed be convicted."

Steele said the cautionary messages are unnecessary, adding that studies show undocumented immigrants are actually less likely to commit crimes.

“Among undocumented immigrants, we have a rate of crime 56 percent lower than native-born united states citizens,” Steele said.

The U.S. Attorney General also announced Monday he will be filing a complaint against the State of New Jersey for not allowing law enforcement to share information with the Department of Homeland Security. As well as a complaint against King County, Washington for not allowing the use of the local airport to deport undocumented immigrants.

The Attorney General also noted "certain district attorneys" who have charged foreign nationals.