(ESPAÑOL) ICE’s chief took aim at sanctuary cities like Sacramento, stating that politicians who support limiting cooperation with federal deportations might belong in handcuffs themselves.
“This isn’t the America I grew up in. We’ve got to take these sanctuary cities on. We’ve got to take them to court and we’ve got to start charging some of these politicians with crimes,” said Thomas Homan, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, during a Fox News appearance.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, whose city last year strengthened its position as a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants, was defiant in his response on Wednesday.
“They certainly know where to find me,” Steinberg said.
“As I’ve always said, there’s only one way to deal with bullies, and that is to stand your ground and stand with the people, and that’s what we’ll continue to do in Sacramento,” Steinberg said. “Is there a shred of civility, dignity or intelligence left in this president or in this administration?”
Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna also expressed dismay at Homan’s comments.
“I think it’s unfortunate that there seems to be an ICE agent (Homan) that seems to be foaming at the mouth about this,” Serna said.
Serna has been critical of a contract between the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department and ICE. The contract permits the sheriff to house about 170 undocumented immigrants at the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center near Elk Grove, said Sheriff’s Department spokesman Sgt. Shaun Hampton, and brings in about $5 million annually.
About 49,000 Sacramento residents are not U.S. citizens, including about 4,100 children, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. How many are here illegally is unknown. The Census Bureau does not ask about legal status.
Despite criticisms, Steinberg reaffirmed the city’s commitment to being a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants. He said Sacramento would “redouble our efforts” to protect the immigrant community, including possibly adding more money to a legal defense fund for undocumented residents.
The Sacramento City Council in May voted to set aside $300,000 for legal, educational and faith-based nonprofits to help undocumented immigrants facing deportation and advise them of their legal rights. Immigrants with violent criminal records are not eligible for aid.