A national pandemic of local municipalities protecting illegal immigrant criminals is driving federal authorities to resort to desperate measures to keep communities safe. This month Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) launched a billboard campaign seeking the public’s help in capturing felons released by various law enforcement agencies throughout Pennsylvania under sanctuary policies. The state has more than a dozen official sanctuary counties that have recently discharged convicted or arrested criminal aliens. Police throughout the Keystone State refuse to honor a local-federal partnership known as 287(g) that notifies ICE of jail inmates in the country illegally so that they can be deported after serving time for state crimes. At least 16 Pennsylvania counties and the state’s biggest city, Philadelphia, offer illegal immigrants sanctuary, according to the Center for Immigration Studies.
The new taxpayer-funded billboards will be placed on or near highways throughout Pennsylvania and will feature at-large immigration violators who may pose a public safety threat, according to a statement issued by ICE. “These individuals were previously arrested or convicted of crimes in the U.S. but were released into the community instead of being transferred to ICE custody pursuant to an immigration detainer,” the agency writes in the announcement. “ICE lodges immigration detainers on individuals who have been arrested on local criminal charges and who are suspected of being removable, so that ICE can take custody of that person when he or she is released from local custody. When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders onto the streets, it undermines ICE’s ability to protect public safety and carry out its mission.”
Unfortunately, this is a sad old story that has ignited a national crisis. Judicial Watch has reported on it extensively, providing outrageous examples that include elected law enforcement officials freeing child sex offenders, major counties releasing numerous violent convicts and a state—North Carolina—that recently discharged nearly 500 illegal immigrant criminals from custody before the end of the fiscal year. The dangerous trend has forced ICE to come up with creative ways to apprehend the offenders and deport them. In one busy region the agency publicly disclosed the convicts, complete with mug shots, scheduled to be released before they were actually let go by police that proudly offer illegal aliens sanctuary. The initiative targeted six offenders incarcerated in two Maryland counties—Montgomery and Prince George’s—notorious for shielding illegal immigrants from the feds. Most were incarcerated for sexual crimes involving children, including rape and serious physical abuse that resulted in death. A couple of the convicts were in jail for murder and assault.
The new Pennsylvania billboard project will plaster the mug shot of criminal aliens under a “Wanted by ICE” banner and the crimes they have committed. The agency that released them, in most cases the Philadelphia Police Department, is also written in large letters on the board as well as a caption that reads: “Sanctuary policies are a REAL DANGER.” The new billboards will be located on Route 1 north of Old Lincoln Highway, Pennsylvania Turnpike Bridge & Wood, Walt Whitman Bridge #5, Route 130 south of Airport Circle, North Christopher Columbus Boulevard Artic Avenue and I-276 Pennsylvania Turnpike east of Buck Road. “Too often sanctuary policies limiting cooperation with ICE result in significant public safety concerns,” a senior ICE official says in the agency announcement, assuring that “ICE will continue to enforce immigration laws set forth by Congress through the efforts of the men and women of ICE to remove criminal aliens and making our communities safer.”
Here is an example of offenders featured in the first batch of Pennsylvania billboards; Han Soo Lee, a South Korean national arrested by Philadelphia Police for aggravated assault, simple assault, possessing an instrument of crime and reckless endangerment; Mike Bwondara, a Kenyan national also arrested in Philadelphia for aggravated assault, possession of an instrument of crime with intent, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person; Lauro Peralta-Veles, an Ecuadorean national arrested by Pittsburgh Police for aggravated assault, public intoxication, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. In each case, ICE lodged a detainer with local authorities, but the detainers were not honored under sanctuary laws. “Non-cooperation policies result in preventable crimes of violence taking place in our communities when dangerous criminal aliens are released to the streets to reoffend,” according to ICE.