The recent announcement by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra that he will prosecute any California employer that cooperates with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) in the enforcement of federal immigration law deserves a swift and hard-hitting response by federal law enforcement officials. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions should throw the proverbial book at Becerra by having him arrested and charged, at a minimum, with conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
When then-Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio stood up to the Obama Administration’s lax immigration enforcement policy, the United States Department of Justice under Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s stewardship showed no hesitancy in prosecuting him for criminal contempt charges. Arpaio was subsequently convicted and but for President Trump’s pardon, he might well be in jail today.
The shoe is now on the other foot. On Thursday, Becerra responded to reports that ICE was stepping up its presence in California by issuing an ultimatum to California employers – either refuse to cooperate with ICE or be prosecuted under California’s new sanctuary state law that imposes fines of up to $10,000 against any employer that voluntarily provides federal immigration officials with information relevant to an employee’s immigration status.
Just as Mr. Becerra thumbs his nose at U.S. homeland security officials, recent polling indicates that upwards of 76 percent of the American people want more ICE officers hired. Furthermore, a whopping 82 percent want tougher laws against illegal immigrants who commit criminal acts. The U.S. House of Representatives has done its part by passing “Kate’s Law” and “The No Sanctuary For Criminals Act” last summer. If it weren’t for the obstructionist Democrats in the U.S. Senate led by Chuck “Shutdown” Schumer, these measures would likely already be the law of the land.
Becerra and other officials within California and other jurisdictions have been quite vocal describing their joint efforts to create sanctuary jurisdictions to harbor illegal aliens and obstruct federal efforts to enforce our nation’s immigration laws.
While it’s common to employ procedural tactics to block the passage of popular legislation, Becerra’s obstructionism is of a far different kind. His threat seems to fit precisely within the proscriptions of the federal obstruction of justice statute. That law makes it a federal felony punishable by up to five years in prison to make any threatening communication aimed at influencing, obstructing or impeding the due and proper administration of any law under which any federal department or agency is conducting a proceeding. And because Becerra is not acting alone, he should face a conspiracy charge as well.
Becerra’s proclamation made at a public news conference is clearly a threatening communication aimed at denying ICE personnel access to pertinent employer information, and its stated purpose is to do exactly what the obstruction of justice laws prohibit – impede a federal agency’s law enforcement efforts. He and other officials within California and other jurisdictions have been quite vocal describing their joint efforts to create sanctuary jurisdictions to harbor illegal aliens and obstruct federal efforts to enforce our nation’s immigration laws.
The U.S. Constitution states that immigration policy is a federal prerogative. State and local officials ought to cooperate with federal law enforcement on immigration matters in the interests of keeping American communities safe and secure. Becerra’s willful act is simply a political stunt. It’s a crime to deliberately obstruct the enforcement and administration of federal law.
So, it’s high time for the Justice Department to show some leadership by making an example out of Becerra. Attorney General Sessions should direct the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California to act with upmost dispatch in seeking the indictment and arrest of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
Such a prosecution would send an unambiguous message to other high profile leaders in the sanctuary movement such as San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. It was Emanuel who infamously stated that Chicago would “always be a sanctuary city.”
As a nation, we should not tolerate any more lawlessness from leaders entrusted by citizens to enforce laws that are on the books. Now that the rule of law has been restored under President Trump, blatant obstruction of this magnitude cannot be tolerated. For the Trump administration, the safety and security of all Americans comes first.
How many more Americans like Kate Steinle must be killed before decisive action is taken to confront the lawless sanctuary movement that is making America a less safe place to raise a family? It’s time for the Attorney General of the United States to act.