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Attorney General Jeff Sessions Delivers Remarks Before Media Availability in San Diego, California


San Diego, CA
United States

Remarks as prepared for delivery

First, I want to thank Secretary John Kelly of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and his team for organizing these briefings today. This is a partnership. Yesterday, we were in El Paso, Texas, where we met with federal law enforcement and immigration officials there. Today, we have already had briefings from HSI and the Otay Mesa Detention facility. All of this has been informative and renewed our commitment to ensure our men and women in law enforcement know we have their back and that our prosecutors here and around the country know that this administration is serious about ending lawlessness at the border. DHS and Department of Justice work hand in glove on these issues and I’m so pleased to have General Kelly as a partner in this fight. Because it is a fight we will win.

The Secretary and I have both spoken extensively about the dangers posed by transnational gangs like MS-13 – whose motto “murder, rape and control” encapsulates why they must be eradicated. We have also spoken about the dangers posed by lax immigration policies that allow these gang members to return even after being deported. It ends now.

Today, I think it’s important to talk about sanctuary jurisdictions. It was nearly two years ago that Kate Steinle was shot and killed, dying in her father’s arms, along Pier 14 in San Francisco. The alleged shooter was an illegal immigrant with seven felony convictions who had been deported five times. Only weeks earlier, the city had released him from custody, even though federal immigration authorities had filed a detainer requesting he be kept in custody until they could remove him for deportation proceedings. Even worse, this man admitted he came to San Francisco in part because of its sanctuary policies.

Today, the Department of Justice sent letters to nine jurisdictions that were identified (by the Obama administration) as having policies that potentially violate federal law to receive millions in federal grants. These jurisdictions have until June 30 to send their legal justifications for why they are not in violation of federal law and the state of California is one of these jurisdictions.

California is no stranger to transnational gangs. MS-13 was founded in Los Angles and is on the rise now across the country, enriching themselves by pedaling poison in our communities, trafficking children for sexual exploitation and inflicting horrific violence in the communities where they operate. As you know too well here, Escondido’s gang violence has jumped recently between two rival gangs warring for turf – more shootings, more guns, more neighborhoods terrorized.

Sanctuary jurisdictions put known gang members back on the streets of Escondido to rejoin the West Side gang. Just the other day it was reported that a local prosecutor in California went so far as to intentionally lower violent and heinous domestic abuse charges against a repeat offender so that the abuser wouldn’t be deported. Think about the message that sends: If you are an alien and you commit domestic violence, prosecutors will charge you with a lesser crime so you can stay in the country. Enough is enough.

Forcing local law enforcement to release criminal aliens only helps violent gangs and criminals. Sanctuary jurisdictions put criminals back on your streets. They help these gangs to refill their ranks and puts innocent life – including the lives of countless law-abiding immigrants – in danger by refusing to share vital information with federal law enforcement.

I urge California to reconsider. Our federal law enforcement officers and prosecutors stand ready to work with you because every neighborhood, every street corner deserves to be free from gang violence. Thank you again to Secretary Kelly for being a partner in this effort. Now I’ll turn it over to U.S. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin who has been such a great partner in these efforts over the years, and I look forward to continue working with him to keep our communities safe.

Updated April 21, 2017