Stockton singled out by Justice Dept. for violent crime stemming from illegal immigration

Giancarlo Lizzaraga, Staff Writer

In an ongoing battle between states and the federal government, Stockton is facing threats of losing federal funds over its policing policies on undocumented immigrants.

On August 3, Police Chief Eric Jones received a letter from The U.S. Department of Justice about the Public Safety Partnership (“PSP”) which aims to assist jurisdictions with high crime rates such as Stockton.

“The Department is reviewing your jurisdiction’s commitment to reducing violent crime stemming from illegal immigration,” states the letter. The problem, oponents argue, is that undocumented immigrants have not been linked to higher crime rates.

A March report from “Governing” magazine found no connection between unauthorized immigrants and violent crimes, but instead discovered that large pockets of unauthorized immigrants exhibited lower crime rates.

“Foreign-born individuals exhibit remarkably low levels of involvement in crime across their life course,” Bianca E. Bersani said in her article examining first and second generation immigrant offending trajectories.

However, the Trump administration is persistent with its sanctuary city crackdown, targeting other cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver and Chicago. Chicago, the city that leads the nation in homicides, has reported over 423 murders as of Aug. 11.

“These jurisdictions are protecting criminals rather than their law-abiding residents,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a speech on July 12.

Court challenges were initiated almost immediately by municipalities who demand their right to withhold information from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) without consequence. The DOJ threatens that if these cities don’t cooperate with federal immigration officers then federal funds and resources will be stripped from them.

Florida’s Miami-Dade County and Nevada’s Clark County are examples of sanctuary cities that have agreed to comply with federal authorities and will be receiving their annual federal grants for combating crime from undocumented immigrants.

It has yet to be shown whether joining the PSP will decrease crime rates for those cities. For the other sanctuary cities under fire, there is some doubt as to the high priority given to detaining and then turning over illegal immigrants to ICE.

“The problem isn’t exclusive to people who come to our country from somewhere else,” history teacher Jason Johnson said.

Stockton law enforcement continues to not prioritize stopping, questioning or detaining individuals solely on immigration status. Instead, they are focusing on using available data and fair treatment to properly lower the high crimes rate in the city.

While Stockton hasn’t taken an aggressive stance, San Francisco, Los Angeles and the state of California have sued the DOJ over the aforementioned threats. On August 5 Chicago was the first city to sue the Justice Department with San Francisco and the state following their lead the next weekend.

For Stockton and many of the sanctuary cities, the thought of losing federal support only adds to their growing issues with crime, overpopulation and a loss of community.

“We need money, we need resources,” Johnson said. “We need things to give people a fighting chance.”