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Press Release

Oklahoma United States Attorneys Share National Concerns With Sanctuary City Policies

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Oklahoma

MUSKOGEE, OKLAHOMA – The United States Attorneys from Oklahoma share Attorney General William Barr’s concerns with sanctuary policies in some cities across our nation expressed yesterday at the National Sheriff’s Association conference.  (See remarks here) U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Downing, Western District of Oklahoma; U.S. Attorney Brian J. Kuester, Eastern District of Oklahoma; U.S. Attorney R. Trent Shores, Northern District of Oklahoma; and U.S. Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Dallas Field Office Director Marc J. Moore collectively make the following statement:

Sanctuary city policies, however well intended, are misleading, uninformed, and detrimental to public safety. In reality, only criminals find sanctuary in sanctuary cities.

In partnership with the Field Office Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, we want to express our gratitude to the state, tribal, and local law enforcement authorities throughout Oklahoma that partner with federal agencies to improve public safety by enforcing federal immigration laws that were passed by Congress. These collaborative law enforcement relationships make Oklahomans safer by ensuring that dangerous criminals who are also unlawful aliens in our country are held accountable and removed from our communities.

Law enforcement agencies in Oklahoma understand that effective law enforcement includes immigration enforcement. However, there is a growing public-safety concern that sanctuary city policies seen in other states could find a foothold here in Oklahoma.  

Despite claims to the contrary, so-called sanctuary policies do not protect illegal immigrants who came to our country but have otherwise been peaceful and productive members of society. Rather, the express purpose of sanctuary policies is to shelter illegal aliens whom local law enforcement have already arrested for other crimes. In short, sanctuary policies protect criminals and hurt immigrant communities.
Over the past year in Oklahoma, the vast majority of illegal aliens who have faced federal criminal charges and potential deportation have been previously convicted of felony offenses.  Examples of those felony convictions include:

  • Aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14 years of age
  • Failure to register as a convicted sex offender
  • Assault and battery with a dangerous weapon- automobile
  • Assault and battery with dangerous and deadly weapons
  • Battery with serious bodily injury
  • Aggravated assault on a peace officer
  • Domestic assault and battery
  • Domestic assault and battery by strangulation 
  • Domestic assault and battery with a dangerous weapon
  • Domestic assault and battery in the presence of a minor
  • Possession of illegal drugs
  • Possession of drugs with intent to distribute (heroin, crack, cocaine, methamphetamine and more) 
  • Money laundering
  • Trafficking of illegal drugs
  • Attempted armed robbery
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Conspiring to perform an act of violence

Individuals who engage in criminal activity, regardless of their immigration status, pose a danger in every community.

When state or local jurisdictions have custody of known or suspected illegal aliens, federal law enforcement may issue a detainer – a formal request to hold that criminal – so it can take appropriate action, including deportation, following the conclusion of the immigrant’s pending state proceeding.  Honoring detainers is not anti-immigrant; rather, honoring detainers is anti-criminal and critical to protecting all Oklahomans, including immigrants.

The fact of the matter is that when sanctuary jurisdictions ignore lawful detainers, they release criminal aliens onto the street. These catch and release policies imperil the safety of every person in a community. Moreover, it puts into harm’s way law enforcement officers who are often tasked with locating released criminal aliens and executing arrest warrants.  Importantly for Oklahomans, the consequences of sanctuary city policies do not exclusively impact sanctuary jurisdictions.  Indeed, known criminal aliens released into so called “sanctuary cities” have traveled to neighboring jurisdictions, where they have committed heinous, violent crimes. 

For these reasons, we stand with Attorney General Barr in his rejection of sanctuary city policies. We support Oklahoma’s immigrant communities and look forward to working with them to improve public safety. As such, we will continue working with our law enforcement partners and community leaders to hold accountable all criminals who violate our laws and harm our communities.

- U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Downing, Western District of Oklahoma
- U.S. Attorney Brian J. Kuester, Eastern District of Oklahoma
- U.S. Attorney R. Trent Shores, Northern District of Oklahoma
- Field Office Director Marc J. Moore, U.S. Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Dallas Field Office

Updated February 11, 2020

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