Left-wing politicians across the country are relying on faulty "talking points" to make the case for sanctuary city policies, a former New York Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agent said Tuesday.
Jim Hayes said ICE is right to put out a list of illegal immigrant fugitives who have been released into New York City despite requests from ICE to hand them over for deportation.
"Take the case to the American people because they're hearing just talking points from these cities that say 'we're making you safer' and they're not and the results speak for themselves," said Hayes, adding that voters will ultimately decide on the controversial policy "at the ballot box."
Acting ICE Director Matthew Albence presented the list to reporters at a press conference last week in New York where he spoke of the dangers of sanctuary cities -- in which jurisdictions ignore detainers issued by ICE for arrested illegal immigrants.
Those detainers are requests that ICE be informed of an illegal immigrant’s pending release from custody so they can be transferred to deportation proceedings. While the Trump administration has been warning of the dangers of such policies for months, it's a fight that has been brought into the spotlight by the murder of a 92-year-old woman, allegedly by an illegal immigrant sprung from custody in November after New York ignored an ICE detainer.
"Make no mistake – it is this city's sanctuary policies that are the sole reason this criminal was allowed to roam the streets freely and end an innocent woman's life,” Albence said.
The list of fugitives put out by ICE includes suspected illegal immigrants from Nigeria, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Guinea, Spain, and El Salvador. Those released have arrests for assault in the first, second and third degrees, attempted robbery, criminal possession of a weapon, gang assaults and other violent offenses.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has defended the city’s sanctuary city policies, saying that it makes the city safer and noting that there are some crimes for which the city will cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.
Hayes pushed back on the comment, explaining that ICE agents do not target victims of crimes or witnesses for immigration violations.
"I was the agent in charge of the New York office for six years. I authorized temporary legal status here for hundreds of people during that time who were victims or witnesses at the request of the NYPD, other federal agencies. So that's not what's happening here," he said, calling it "stunning" that ICE's strategy of going after illegal immigrants who have committed crimes is becoming controversial.
"This has been a priority for administrations both Democrat and Republican for decades. It's really an interesting fight to pick and I don't think it's a winner," he added.
Fox News' Adam Shaw contributed to this report.