Bravo, Mayor Bowser, Bravo

Photo by PoPville flickr user Ted Eytan

From the Mayor’s Office last night:

“Today, Mayor Bowser issued the following statement reaffirming the District’s status as a sanctuary city:

“The values, laws, and policies of Washington, DC did not change on Election Day. We celebrate our diversity and respect all DC residents no matter their immigration status. We are a sanctuary city because we know that our neighborhoods are safer and stronger when no one is afraid to call on our government for help, and when our police can focus on protecting and serving.”

113 Comment

    • “The District’s policy, which merely restates local practices that date back over 20 years, prohibits public safety officials from inquiring about immigration and sending fingerprints for a number of minor offenses to the FBI. For major offenses, fingerprints are still sent to the FBI, and the District will hold an individual for an additional 48 hours until the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement comes to get them. ”

      Seems reasonable; we can protect those who contribute to the economy and enrich our cities (and hopefully get them on a path to citizenship), while removing the criminals. I’m curious what is considered a “minor” offense, though.

      • Examples include disorderly conduct, possession of an open container of alcohol, etc. They are all considered crimes against the community, not against a person or property.

    • The only stands Bowser knows how to take are when it comes to re-inforcing a popular opinion or pre-existing law/stance.

  • i’ll never understand an explicit refusal to adhere to existing federal law. And I am counting on many popville commenters to tell me how wrong and heartless I am. Go.

    • It’s a public safety issue. First, local law enforcement aren’t immigration officers. They have enough on their plate. Second, if people fear the police will deport them or their loved ones, they won’t report crimes or cooperate with law enforcement.

      • Correct. This applies not only if them are victims, but if they are witnesses to or have knowledge of a crime. We all lose if criminals can act with impunity.

    • @ Trinidaddy, I agree. But emotionalism is the fashion of the day, not rationalism.

      • It’s not emotionalism. As Hill Denizen said, it’s a public safety issue. I’m sure there are probably several studies on this but unfortunately I don’t have the time right now to look….

        • northeazy

          How is it a public safety issue to give criminals (some illegal immigrants are indeed murderers, rapists, child molesters, and robbers, just like the non-illegal population) protection? Further, how is it a public safety issue to willfully give up your federal funding for your legal population when the Trump Administration enforces its federal laws on the books? If Mayor Bowser doesn’t like federal laws, she should run for Congress or president, not mayor.

          • Shame on your bigotry. You do not represent this city.

          • Northeasy has a different opinion than yours. Don’t call her bigot. You don’t represent DC either

          • She’s not giving murderers, rapists, child molesters and (violent) robbers protection. The full force of the law will be applied to violent offenders, up to and including deportation and incarceration.

          • That’s absurd. Illegals that commit those crimes go to jail. They just don’t get turned over to the Feds. But the Fuhrer will fix this with his SS INS Deportation Force.

      • If you took the time to look into the issues you would see which side is being rational and which is being emotional (actually just look at northeazy’s post perfect example right there). And Northeazy, you are not understanding, its not saying illegal immigrants get a free pass for all crimes. To the contrary, this makes it more likely people will report crimes and therefore more likely the illegal immigrants committing other offenses will be caught for them. No one is advocating giving murderers, rapits, child molesters and robbers protection.

      • +1000 Trinidaddy and KPS.

    • Yep, this is insanity. She took this oath and needs to be held accountable if she violates it: “I, (mayor’s name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the laws of the United States of America and of the District of Columbia, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of Mayor of the District of Columbia, which I am about to enter”

      • 100% this.

        I don’t like Bowser, and I really don’t like Trump, but we are a nation of laws. If our elected officials start picking and choosing which laws to follow, the result is chaos.

        It’s the same thing as all of the HRC supporters who are trying to get the Electoral College to change their votes. No, no, no. We, as liberals, lost. Trump won the only thing that mattered: the electoral college vote (the popular vote in a presidential election is meaningless).

        Shouldn’t be surprised, though, as this is another in a long list of questionable decisions by our Mayor.

        • I’m really curious — did either of you support marijuana legalization?

        • Governments prioritize laws all the time. For instance, DC also has a good Samaritan law that provides immunity for drug possession charges if someone calls an ambulance for someone experiencing an overdose.

          This does not protect immigrants from criminal acts. It merely says that the police will not pursue civil immigration matters. I can’t think of any other civil federal matter where local police get involved. (There may be some but nothing comes to mind.)

    • HaileUnlikely

      I agree with you as a procedural matter, though I happen to agree with the DC law and disagree with the federal one in this specific case. See also legalization of recreational marijuana. Whatever my opinion on the matter (and it isn’t relevant to the present discussion), I think it is bad public policy for local jurisdictions to have laws that explicitly conflict with applicable federal laws.

    • Do you support medical marijuana? It’s also an explicit violation of Federal law.

    • I agree with you. I am socially liberal but I believe in rule of law

    • I am a US born citizen. I have lived/worked in three other countries. In all cases, I had to have a visa, to carry local govt-issued ID, and to check in with local police from time to time; and I had to leave when my visa expired. One of them (Japan), I was even fingerprinted, as all foreigners who live in Japan are. Against this background, I find the lax attitude towards US immigration laws incomprehensible. Al countries enforce their immigration laws.

      • You are an american born citizen therefore you dont understand the gruesome vetting process immigrants have to go through to come here legally. Speaking from experience, the legal process is q nightmare. No sympathy, constant suspicion, absolutely no benefit while still paying taxes, the fear of getting your application rejected or delayed, the indentured serf aspect of work visas…
        Yeah you have absolutely NO idea what you are talking about my friend

        • I know exactly what it’s like to be monitored in a foreign country and to be under no illusions that when my time is up, I get out or I am in trouble. US citizens in foreign countries, I am saying, face no such leniency. Most of the people I know in the US illegally are not state-less; they just don’t want to live in their native country, and/or they prefer to live here. That’s flattering, but it’s a violation of the law.

          • I think you are confusing legal and illegal immigration. The US and most countries worldwide strictly enforce their legal immigration laws and no one is treated leniently.
            Here, the really screwed up legal system simply creates an incentive to not respect the laws because respecting them will cost you $000s, time, and stress you beyond what you can imagine, even though you may already be contributing through your job.
            The lack of pathways from visas to permanent stay is the biggest issue. I know people who have been working in highly paid positions here for decades, yet had to leave because they just could not stay for lack of available visas. Luckily, when you have degrees you can bounce back somewhere else but if you don’t ? That’s either a trip back home to a country you left years ago or the illegal overstay.
            This country needs to take a cold hard look at their immigration laws. If you have so many people evading the laws, it may mean that you need to change them

          • “Illegal overstay.” Your term, and it’s correct.

          • “they just don’t want to live in their native country and/or the prefer to live here.” You wouldn’t feel any different if you were living in a country facing unchecked corruption, extortion from gangs, the choice of being killed by said gangs or joining them, not having a say in a democratic process to try and change things. People come to the US because, historically, we have been that beacon of hope and opportunity for people who live in countries with none. Sad there are so many people who feel fear and have no compassion for fellow human beings who drew the unlucky straw of not being born in the US in the first place.

          • Anon, I understand perfectly well why people come here. But that does not mean it’s right to allow people into the country illegally. Right?!? I mean, these laws are already on the books.

        • Oh, I thought you were going to describe escape from unfriendly government, dangerous land or sea excursions, walking through minefields, etc. But “no sympathy”? OH NO, how could they? The heartless bastards!

      • The 2.5 million immigrants who have been deported by the Obama administration don’t think we take a lax approach to immigration laws. And foreigners entering the country are finger-printed, I think some also get retina scans (at least my Venezuelan grandmother and cousin did on a few of their trips, not sure if it was a pilot though). You also have to pay for biometrics when applying for a visa on top of the regular fee. But the reality is our immigration system hasn’t kept up with our country’s social and economic realities and the intransigence when it comes to making any changes that would make it easier or realistic for someone to migrate legally means that we also haven’t made necessary changes to keep up with advances in technology and security. Deporting everyone who is here undocumented would decimate the economy and would be completely cost-prohibitive. If we cleared our backlogs, provided a path for people to get right with the law and eventually earn citizenship, and reformed the system so that legal immigration based on both family ties and our nation’s economic needs is practicable, we could free up resources to focus on criminals, track visa overstays (how nearly half of undocumented immigrants got here), and develop a workable entry-exit system.

    • Hill Denizen and Anonabeer are correct. Pushing undocumented immigrants underground hurts everyone and makes the city a more dangerous place. Also, remember that violating immigration laws is a civil offense, not a criminal offense. The sanctuary city movement is both moral and pragmatic.

      Furthermore, we have a federal system, and Immigration is strictly a Federal responsibility, not a responsibility for state or local governments. I don’t want the MPD enforcing immigration law any more than I want the FBI writing parking tickets or closing down strip joints.

      • Lets try to keep morality out of this. I have empathy for those who are in the country illegally. But at the end of the day, they did willingly break the law. There are billions of hard working around the world who weren’t fortunate enough to be born in a developed nation. The number of lower skilled people who want to move here will always exceed the amount we can realistically absorb and still be a middle class society. We need to have a formal legal process to govern these flows. Sad as it is to say, immigration policy must be set according to what is in our long term national interest, not global humanitarian concerns.

        We need to be practical on immigration, not moral.

      • @alurin, to provide a bit more context, violating immigration laws is not only a civil offense. I assume you’re referring to ICE here. For example, ignoring deportation orders puts you squarely in the jurisdiction’s federal district court for a criminal proceeding. As a law clerk, we saw these cases all the time.

  • Disagree. City is safer when perps, who continually perp (including not following immigration/citizenship policies), don’t suck away our tax $$ for rehabilitation and are sent back to their home country.

    • Immigrants, both documented and undocumented, are supposed to be deported if they commit a felony. And I’m sorry but the vast majority of undocumented immigrants pose absolutely no threat to public safety and contribute more to our economies than they receive in return.

      • I’m a legal immigrant who happens to be a naturalized US citizen. I can’t be deported. You must be talking about permanent residents/green card holders, as well as someone here on a visa. Different things.

        • Yes. I meant anyone who is not a citizen

        • Wrong. Although rare, it is possible for a naturalized U.S. citizen to have his or her citizenship stripped through a process called “denaturalization.” Former citizens who are denaturalized are subject to removal (deportation) from the United States. There are several grounds for denaturalization.

          • It appears the only time that can happen though is if the person illegally obtains citizenship somehow.

          • I’m curious about this now. If I hold no other citizenship(and I don’t), where would they deport me to? What citizenship would I take on? This is fascinating.

          • @Trinidaddy, yes there are some cases where people are literally stuck with no citizenship because they’ve long ago given up their former citizenship and then their current one is taken away. I was reading something about it, but I think it was in Canada.

      • I know of one SF life we would still have if deportation had happened as it should. How much is that life worth…$1 million, $10 million? $25 million? I’d argue it’s priceless. Happy to pay more for lettuce and green beans to keep fellow American’s safe.

        • I get the point but there are plenty of lives taken daily by our own citizens. Not sure why everyone uses that one SF instance all the time as their talking point. That guy doesnt represent anyone but himself.

          • One bite at a time, and the first bite is getting non-law abiding citizens out of here. And that assumes fixing our rehabilitation system is doable…or even worth doing. Immigrants should have come to our country the right way. You know, like our ancestors and predecessors did…by coming through Ellis island, studying hard for tests, or whatever the method was at the time. We need to show other people compassion, I firmly believe that, but it’s not by having an open border.

          • Ellis Island was in use for like 60 years.
            For the greatest part of American history, the only requirement to come here was a willingness to work hard.

          • Ummm…being documented was also a requirement.

          • “Being documented”? You mean having a piece of paper with your name on it? I know you’re thinking of the grainy photos of tired immigrants standing in line at Ellis Island (again, only in use for 60 years) having their papers examined, but “being documented” was far less important than “not having tuberculosis”.

          • Erik- are you advocating that immigrants come here, wipe and drive out the current population, and claim the land as their own You know, just like our ancestors?

          • Back in the day, you just had to figure out how to pay for the boat passage to get over here, and it wasn’t uncommon for people who couldn’t pass the health checks to try to sneak in or come through Canada. Now, if you want to come through legal means, it’s much more complicated, confusing, and costly. Depending on the country you’re coming from, you could be facing a multiple decades long wait. Or if you’ve been deported in the past, you could be banned from ever reentering so you stay illegally rather than never seeing your family.

          • Oh and the granddaughter of one such immigrant rejected at Ellis Island became HHS Secretary and President of the University of Miami:

          • SF rez here (and 1st gen US). It’s because he was released two days earlier under sanctuary protection, after the city explicitly rejected a federal request to hold him in jail. It’s a better example than its made out to be.

            That said, SF’s sanctuary law is far more loose than DC’s, so not sure the value of a 1:1 comparison.

          • @markus good point. And DC would still comply with detainer requests. From what I’ve heard from law enforcement, the requests are a burden because they’re made pretty liberally and often the people aren’t picked up so resources are wasted housing them for no reason. I don’t recall the details of this case, but this isn’t that different from a citizen who gets detained for a misdemeanor or something, get released and then goes on to commit murder. This guy killed this poor woman because he was a murderer; being an undocumented immigrant make him any more or less of a murderer. I think cities like SF would be more willing to comply if they had some sort of assurance that the people they were holding were high priority or a threat and they weren’t just stuck with doing ICE’s job.

        • That guy had been deported. Immigrants aren’t more likely to commit violent crimes than anyone else: Maybe if we weren’t spending time and resources going after the abuelitas and the farm hands, we could better keep track of the people who are actually more likely to cause harm.

        • Got it, this is personal for you. if you are happy to pay more for lettuce and green beans, then do it. Put your money where your mouth is.
          Also, I am sure many people would still be alive if their fellow US citizens wouldn’t have been too trigger happy…

        • I know thousands of lives each year that would be saved if we took guns off our streets too.

      • I think you would be surprised by how many people are legally deported (many for felonies as you noted above), but then never actually get deported. As a primer, for the most part, the system trusts immigrants to abide by legal judgements, though there is virtually no hand-holding along the way. The court system and immigration authorities are woefully inept at keeping track. I worked cases upon cases where individuals were deported, but then came right back into the US. (This of course, is not allowed). These matters often find themselves in federal district court. One gentleman did so 12 times, served only a light jail sentence.

      • I always think about this case. The anti-immigration people are SO not ready for the consequences of their proposed policies.

        • Wasn’t there also a town in Colorodo that refused to allow immigrants to work in restaurants and other places, and the town’s economy crashed? And then they reversed their plan? I wish I could remember the name of the town…

    • Start by not supporting businesses that hire undocumented workers. Good luck finding food (both raw ag products and eating in restaurants!)

  • Local municipalities should abide by federal immigration laws. Why not give sanctuary to criminals that break into our homes uninvited? Mexico and other countries enforce their immigration laws, and the U.S. should be able to enforce their laws without the interference of liberal Mayors like Muriel Bowser. This is why many people voted for Donald Trump because illegals are coming to the U.S. from South of the border in large numbers and many communities are feeling overwhelmed.

    • Exactly. Think the Mexican government would let me just go live in their country and receive money and services that are provided by their working citizens? The only “sanctuary cities” in America should be for the most at-risk citizens and legal immigrants – not people who willfully violate our laws. This is common sense, not racism and bigotry.

    • Feeling overwhelmed by the willingness of so many of these good, hardworking people to take the crap jobs most of us spoiled Americans aren’t willing to do?
      There’s no immigration crisis, people. The problems will begin when we start deporting almost everyone who works in agriculture and a good chunk of those in food service. Bread lines, here we come!

  • Well this post really brought out the anti-immigration folks. I say major props to Bowser, and I don’t do that often…

    • Yeah, the comments have surprised me as well. While this comments section usually has a lot of different views and lively debate, the readership tends to be overwhelming liberal and supportive of immigration. In the past at least.

      • Immigration and illegal immigration are different things. The failure of Democrats to understand and articulate that is a major contributor to the fact that we now have a dangerous fascist about to enter the white house.

        • You hit the nail on the head. Intentionally(i think it was intentional, in order to gain votes of a newly-rising demographic) lumping legal and illegal immigration into the same bucket has definitely backfired for the Democratic party

        • Republicans seem to fail to understand how utterly crucial immigration is to this economy, and prefer instead to make all immigration as difficult as possible. If the fearmongers weren’t constantly throwing up new hurdles, and were facilitating instead, there wouldn’t be so many immigrants without documentation. Most people WANT to do it right.
          The US wastes ridiculous money on enforcing laws that are against our national interest. We further damage our economy by shutting out the people who are willing to do the worst work (see link above re: Georgia.) This, from the party of fiscal responsibility. SMH

          • This is unfairly broad – as until the current trump “republican” republicans were free trade/pro-immigration. Maybe not every voter, but at least the past three presidents and the past two candidates, up to and including far broader amnesty programs than under Obama.

        • President Obama has deported more people than any other president!?!

          • HaileUnlikely

            I believe that is true, and even if not literally true, it isn’t far off, and it is almost certainly the case that the Obama administration has deported many more people than most liberals for whom immigration reform is not priority #1 realize. Several of my friends who work on immigration policy, who happily voted for Obama twice and are still completely in love with him, nonetheless refer to him as the “Deporter in Chief” on occasion. Three members of my (predominantly Central American) church community, none of whom had been convicted of violent crimes, were deported during the Obama presidency. Trump will almost certainly be worse, I voted for Obama both times and for Hillary, but I’m tired of seeing Obama get a free pass for his deportations because he did them quietly rather than bragging about them.

          • They are angry because Obama hasn’t been bragging and dick-sizing about how many people he’s deported. Because he has an ounce of empathy.
            Basically, they are angry that Obama hasn’t completely alienated the Latino population. That’s the unsaid reasoning behind their faux “outrage.”

          • I completely agree with what you just said, HaileUnlikely

        • +1. Not to mention the difference between illegal immigrants who commit serious crimes and illegal immigrants who do not. I was constantly annoyed by the failure of both sides to make these distinctions, but I think it definitely hurt the democrats while it helped the republicans.

      • It doesn’t really surprise me anymore, even on Popville. So many people think they’re victims and insist on blaming the world for their problems. Most of the arguments in this thread are just talking points people hear from the republican party. There’s no substance to any of the anti-immigration paranoia.

        • +1
          The worst part of American political culture is the number of citizens – including wealthy ones with tangible power – who think of themselves as perpetual “victims.” The martyr complex is strong with the American electorate, particularly among the winners. Blows my mind.

        • Republican talking points that are being echoed in this thread:
          1. Immigrants are all “perps” and criminals
          2. Illegal immigration is out of control
          3. Immigrants aren’t paying their fair share of taxes
          4. Let me draw your attention to that one illegal immigrant in SF who killed someone
          How do you even argue with people who simply parrot the talking points they’ve heard elsewhere?

          • Right?! And they cannot even hear FACTS. They just keep spouting off 1, 2, 3, 4.

          • OK, but be careful about lumping people who have reasonable differences of opinion in with the parrots. They might just do the same back at you and then vote against you in a presidential election.

          • This is exactly what we need to do (stop lumping people together), but it’s incredibly challenging. One feeling is that if either side were to back off a bit, the voice of the other side would be overwhelming and pull on the “reasonable” middle. How can we mutually de-escalate? The fact that social media and mass media have become echo chambers exacerbates the problem by making the landscape highly unstable.

            Honestly, I think we are all parrots to some degree. We seek advice on, investigate, and ponder a topic (to varying degrees) until we are satisfied and confidently form an opinion. After that, it can be tough to reevaluate, particularly as folks around us, who we like and trust, tend to have formed similar opinions. It’s why diversity (of all forms) is so important.

          • I, personally, do try to be careful not to lump differences of opinions with parrots spouting paranoid talking points. However, those with reasonable differences of opinions need to work on reigning in the loud and completely untrue statements of the people in their own parties too….

          • FridayGirl, you’re lumping them all together right there in your last sentence.

          • How? I’m not lumping anyone together? I said partIES not republicans. It’s similar to saying that men who don’t believe women who should be harassed should speak up if they see another man harassing a woman. I’m not lumping anyone together.

  • northeazy

    Imagine if Hillary won, and Governor Hogan said “Maryland is going to be a sanctuary state for fetuses. From this day forth, no abortions in Maryland.” The Liberals would go NUTS!!!!!!!!!!

    You guys are such hypocrites.

    • Why are you trying to compare apples and tangerines?

    • You are talking. About enforcing a nonlaw that is also a constitutional violation. We are taking about using executive discretion in a perfectly legal way. Nice try though.

    • Another subject where the fearmongering right has replaced your capacity for reason with alarmist talking points. If you retained any thinking ability, you would see that comparing immigrants to fetuses doesn’t really work.
      If you would like to inform yourself about the actual issues around abortion– about women who have died because they were unable to abort the baby who died in utero, about women forced to carry non-viable pregnancies to term and then watch the infant die at birth, about women who were raped and then shamed and lectured about abstinence when they tried to buy Plan B– I’m sure this community would be happy to provide links.

    • You mean like all of the states that are trying to outlaw abortion and have done so using random laws for the past 8 years? Like VA crazy clinic laws or LA’s anti-Planned Parenthood law? The scenario you are pointing out as a joke has literally been happening with abortion from Republicans forever. You are unwittingly showing your own hypocrisy.

  • Totally agree with Pop. Kudos to the mayor! And that’s not something I say frequently. Wrt to the broader issue, perhaps I’d be inclined to take a harder line on illegal immigration if it were easier and more affordable to come here legally. But that’s not in the cards, is it? Overwhelmingly, people who come here illegally just want to improve their lot in life, earn a living, raise a family, and perhaps send some money back to family who stayed behind. Many of them are escaping violence in their home countries. That sounds a lot like what my own ancestors who emigrated from Eastern Europe pre-WWII. If a person is arrested for a violent crime, then check his/her immigration status and, if found to be here illegally, initiate deportation procedures. Otherwise, let them be.

    • This is possibly the most rational comment on this entire post.

    • I think a lot of so-called bleeding-heart liberals are fully on board with deporting undocumented immigrants who have been convicted of violent crimes.
      But just like none of the Federal law enthusiasts answered the questions above about their stance on legalization of marijuana, I don’t expect them to address the difference between this measured approach to national security and the immigration free-for-all that they *imagine* we favor. That’s why it’s impossible to talk policy with them. They’re all fearful hyperbole, no nuance, no empathy.

      • HaileUnlikely

        “That’s why it’s impossible to talk policy with them. They’re all fearful hyperbole, no nuance, no empathy.” I find this to be a fair characterization of most of us these days, on all sides of most issues. Too many discussions these days quickly spiral into “We believe what we believe because what we believe is right, and the people who disagree only disagree because they’re they’re too dumb to see how wrong they are or because they are dirty rotten good-for-nothing bad people.” I hate to say it, but I don’t think its too far off the mark to say that this approach to public discourse contributed to bringing us President Trump.

      • given the election results, i’ve been taking a hard look at how both sides have been speaking and relating to each other, and I think it’s fair to say that both sides traffic in fearful hyperbole, little nuance, and little empathy. Painting all Trump supporters as bigoted racists because they support enforcement of immigration law is unhelpful and unfair. You may hear bigoted racist dogwhistling when Trump says that, and so do many of his supporters, but with some emphathy you might observe that many of them have seen the impact of Mexican heroin cartels on their small communities; have observed a steady supply of people willing to work in terrible conditions for low pay depress employment opportunities for people born in the US; and have seen factual reports of people being hurt by criminals who were being coddled by ‘sanctuary city’ policies. I’d argue it is actively unproductive to continue this black-and-white approach to the debate, and face facts even if they interfere with our utopian liberal views. Like, there’s already a wall between the US and Mexico along much of the border. Obama has deported millions of illegal immigrants. Rather than making this a debate between someone who is selling a fantasy of lily-white 1950s America and someone who is selling a fantasy of a harmonious melting pot with zero crime and full employment, we should be discussing sensible policies and not painting our opponents with a broad brush. It is indeed sensible to deport violent criminals. It is also sensible to create rules which protect non-violent, non-criminal illegal immigrants from being deported when they’re taking actions that help the community, like reporting violent crimes.

        • Absolutely this. And if there’s a time for D’s to step back and think about what has happened, it is now, or in the near future. Also +1 to what Haile said.

  • She’s great.

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