Memo: Broad Support to End Sanctuary City Protection for Felons

In the wake of the tragic murder of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle by an undocumented immigrant with a long criminal record and multiple illegal border crossings, Americans overwhelmingly support ending the practice of sanctuary cities.

A Rasmussen poll released today shows broad support for enforcing existing immigration laws across the entire political spectrum — except for Democrats. Although 62% of all likely voters think the U.S. Justice Department should pursue legal action against cities that ignore immigration laws, only 43% of Democrats agree.

From the polling memo:

Seventy-nine percent (79%) of Republicans and 65% of unaffiliated voters believe the Justice Department should take legal action against sanctuary cities. But just 43% of Democrats agree. Similarly, while 79% of GOP voters and 61% of unaffiliateds want to cut off all aid to these cities, 54% of Democrats are opposed.

The Center for Immigration Studies has a map of sanctuary cities here.

This marks an important turning point in how non-partisan Americans view the issue of immigration. It’s an opportunity to push for measures to address immigration reform that strengthens our security and communities. But there’s also danger for conservatives.

Tone Matters

Although this is a moment in time where Americans are united in their opposition of sanctuary city policies — with the notable exception of liberals — it is important for policymakers and commentators to remember that this is a very emotional, personal issue and communicating with compassion and discipline is critical.

While united in outrage over the murder of Ms. Steinle and the blatant disregard for the law by local elected officials in San Francisco, it would be all too easy for commentators to jump the shark and make statements that turn off disengaged non-partisans rather than encourage them to support common sense reforms.

An article from the San Jose Mercury News sums up the feelings of many Hispanics:

“[Donald Trump] is trying to say we’re all bad, that we’re dumb — that’s just not right,” said [Jose] Garcia, a 53-year-old native of Mexico who crossed the border illegally in 1980, was granted amnesty under a 1986 law signed by President Ronald Reagan and now owns San Jose’s Three Flames Restaurant.

But Garcia was also mortified to hear that San Francisco jailers had freed Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a Mexican national and oft-deported felon three months before he was arrested in the killing of 32-year-old Kate Steinle last week on Pier 14.

“How could they let somebody with a record like that go?” Garcia asked.

Conservatives have warned about the danger of sanctuary cities for some time, and as this debate takes shape, it would be easy for voters to perceive concern about respecting the rule of law and keeping communities safe as broad derogatory statements about people of Hispanic heritage in general. While a certain presidential candidate is not helping matters, the renewed attention on this issue creates an opportunity for conservatives to deliver an authentic, solutions-based message that results in support for common sense immigration reform that puts people first.

The Left is actively trying to provoke angry responses from conservatives on the issue of immigration. Put people first and communicate with empathy to deprive them of their objective.

Conservatives should focus on the following issues when discussing immigration in the coming weeks:

  • Criminals who commit serious felonies must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, regardless of their background.
  • Our number one priority is community safety. As we consider action, our foremost concern should be to keep our communities safe.
  • America has a long history of welcoming immigrants and embracing those who share in the American Dream. But breaking the law is not the way to go about it. It’s not fair.
  • We need incremental immigration reform that respects the rule of law, secures our border, and fixes our broken immigration system.

Additional resources on putting the issue in proper context are available from: