WASHINGTON – Yesterday, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad F. Wolf and Acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Matt Albence participated in a roundtable discussion at the North Carolina State House in Raleigh regarding the law enforcement and public safety threats created by sanctuary policies.
Below are Acting Secretary Wolf’s remarks as prepared.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Speaker Moore, Lieutenant Governor Forest, and other elected officials—thank you for being here. Thank you, as well, to the Sheriffs for joining this roundtable. As Sheriffs for counties that border sanctuary jurisdictions, you understand better than anyone that sanctuary policies extend beyond geographical and political boundaries. I look forward to the insight you will bring to our conversation today.
Most of all, to the families and advocates of victims—on behalf of the President, I want to thank you for shedding light on the danger we face from sanctuary policies by sharing your stories. I can assure you that DHS is working every day to get these criminal aliens out of our communities, so that no other family endures the losses that you have. Director Albence and I appreciate you joining us in the fight to restore law and order in our communities.
While many law-abiding individuals come to the United States every day, all of us here know too well that there are illegal aliens present in our country who have been arrested or convicted of particularly heinous crimes. These individuals are intent on evading our laws, and all too often prey on our citizens and residents.
In the face of this threat, it is the responsibility of our local, state, and federal leaders to take action to protect our communities. Unfortunately, we’ve seen the opposite from certain elected officials and jurisdictions around the country and right here in North Carolina. It seems that certain officials care more about politics than about public safety; they care more about criminal aliens than about their own citizens and residents. This must stop.
Make no mistake – the phrase “Sanctuary City” is a political gimmick. A city has always been understood as a “sanctuary” where residents could find refuge from vandals and crime. But today, politicians seem intent on turning this historic definition on its head, transforming their cities into a sanctuary for criminal aliens rather than a sanctuary for law-abiding residents. Today, sanctuary city policies focus around whether or not illegal aliens that local police have already arrested for a local or state crime are handed over to ICE for removal.
A sanctuary city is a city whose formal and official policy prohibits police from handing over incarcerated aliens for safe removal. Instead, it orders them to be released into unsuspecting communities – near your homes, schools, parks, and loved ones. Simply put, sanctuary policies do not protect communities, they endanger them. Those who continue the pursuit of these policies are misguided at best, and criminally negligent at worst.
Here in North Carolina, sanctuary city policies have been devastating not only to Durham, Mecklenburg, Orange, Buncombe and Wake counties… but to all of North Carolina. Fortunately, we have leaders in this great state who are committed to combatting this threat—like the individuals seated around me today and Senator Tillis who could not be here. All of us here understand that refusing to cooperate with ICE has tremendous consequences. But no one knows this better than the families whose loved ones were lost at the hands of criminal aliens. Each lost family member represents a preventable tragedy. These innocent lives will not be forgotten.
In recognizing the severity of this threat and the urgency needed to address it, I am marshalling all of the Department’s resources to address this issue. I look forward to working together to turn the tide on this issue and once again secure the communities of North Carolina.
I thank you all for your work and dedication to the safety of the people you serve. With that, let me hand it over to Acting Director Matt Albence.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’d like to begin with a poignant example of the dangers of sanctuary policies.
In December 2018, ICE lodged an immigration detainer against Jose Guzman, following his arrest in Durham County on felony armed robbery charges. Jose Guzman was in this country illegally.
Durham County refused to honor the lawfully executed detainer from ICE, adding to the over five hundred detainers that were declined in North Carolina in Fiscal Year 2019. Honoring the detainer would have been simple. County officials simply needed to hold Guzman for a brief period of time until ICE could arrive and assume custody. That’s all.
However, because of this refusal, Guzman was released from law enforcement custody directly into the local community. And less than six months after his release, Guzman was charged with the murder of a 19-year-old woman. The murder happened in the same county that ignored ICE’s detainer.
This was a preventable tragedy. And unfortunately, it may occur again and again, because local officials here in North Carolina have chosen to place the welfare of criminal aliens over the welfare of the American people. A few moments ago, I heard harrowing accounts of what happens when elected officials make this choice. Thank you to the Angel Families.
Regrettably, elected officials in Mecklenburg, Wake, Durham, Buncombe, and Orange counties—and right down the street in the Governor’s Mansion—have committed to this dangerous path, putting North Carolina communities and our law enforcement at tremendous and unnecessary risk.
Today, sanctuary city policies focus around whether or not illegal aliens that local police have already arrested for a local or state crime are handed over to ICE for removal. A sanctuary city is a city whose formal and official policy prohibits police from handing over incarcerated aliens for safe removal. Instead, it orders them to be released into unsuspecting communities – near your homes, schools, parks, and loved ones. This is an affront to Law Enforcement and to the Rule of Law.
As the leader of the Department charged with safeguarding the Homeland against ALL threats, I want to be direct and unambiguous in addressing this issue. Sanctuary city policies are an affront to the rule of law and to our Constitution. They are contrary to every instinct that we have as law enforcement professionals. And they put our men and women in uniform, and the communities they protect, at grave risk.
President Trump recognizes this risk—and upon assuming office, immediately took steps to advance the welfare of American citizens by directing his Cabinet to work towards ending dangerous sanctuary policies. With President Trump’s leadership, our Department will continue to fight on behalf of all victims whose lives have been lost at the hands of criminal aliens.
As our angel families know best, refusing to cooperate with ICE has consequences—tremendous consequences. While some politicians may refuse to listen to us, perhaps they will listen to the victims who are forced to live with this reality every single day. To the families and the advocates of victims—thank you for sharing your stories and for your support in joining us in this fight to restore law and order in our communities.
The innocent lives that have been lost because of these negligent policies will not soon be forgotten—and I commit to you that the Department of Homeland Security will continue to be laser-focused in our efforts to remove criminal aliens from our country. Because for every passing day that a criminal alien remains in the United States unlawfully, people are put at risk.
Before I close, I’d also like to thank the elected officials and Sheriffs in this great state who share our commitment to combat this threat and restore law and order. I look forward to working with them to secure the communities of North Carolina. With that, I’ll turn it over to Acting Director of ICE, Matt Albence for a few additional remarks.