Lofgren Opening Statement During Subcommittee Hearing on Sanctuary Jurisdictions

July 23, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) called for a thoughtful discussion about community trust policies and a review of the procedures pertaining to the release of federal prisoners against whom immigration detainers have been lodged during a hearing today titled, "Sanctuary Cities: A Threat to Public Safety." Lofgren is the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee.

Full statement by Rep. Zoe Lofgren:

"I would like to welcome all of the witnesses to the hearing today and I want to welcome members of the Steinle family, and extend my heartfelt condolences to you. As a parent myself, I can only imagine the grief that you are going through at this time.

"Any time an innocent person is lost to violence me must all consider what steps we can take to make our communities safer. It's important that we all stop and consider what steps we could take: what policies and processes, procedures, rules and laws could be altered so that we would have a safer community, so that tragedy would not occur. So it is important – the process that we're going through at this time.  A hearing like this offers Members and the public an opportunity to learn more about the issue, and I hope we can work together collaboratively to address some of the problems we were sent here to Washington to solve.

"I'm eager to hear what each witness has to say. I must note that last night, Chairman Goodlatte and I testified before the Rules Committee on H.R. 3009, a bill that has already been decided is the answer – apparently – to this. And I would note that, if 3009 had been enacted into law, it wouldn't have had any impact on these circumstances that resulted in the death of your daughter. In addition to that, major law enforcement associations like the Fraternal Order of Police and the Major Counties Sheriffs' Association and others are telling us that that bill will make us less safe, and they all oppose that bill. 

"I do think that the testimony of the police chief of Dayton, Ohio – I hope will be instructive, because I have not heard a single person who suggested it was wise, appropriate, or even legal, for the Sheriff in San Francisco to have released the individual who is charged with killing your daughter. Having said that, there are police agencies around the United States who believe that it makes our communities less safe to inquire as to the immigration status of individuals in every case. For example, the domestic violence organizations have contacted us to say that if there is a call for a domestic violence situation, and the individuals who are calling know that they and everyone in their household will be interrogated as to their status – then a family where there's a mixed status will not call for domestic violence. So we have to be mindful of those issues – the entirety of the situation that we face.

"I would ask unanimous consent to put into the record a bipartisan letter that was sent to appropriators just four months ago signed by 162 Members of Congress, talking about the importance of the Byrne-JAG and COPS Grants to policing in this country – noting that it is those very grants that would be removed by the legislation that is before the Congress later today. I would also ask unanimous consent to enter into the record letters in opposition to H.R. 3009 by the Major County Sheriffs Association, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force, the League of Cities, and the US Conference of Mayors.

"With that I will just say that I will listen with great interest to all of our witnesses, but especially to Mr. Steinle – and hopefully I will have the chance to meet you after this hearing, and your family as well. As you know, Congresswoman Pelosi and I sent a letter to the Attorney General and the Department of Homeland Security just a few days ago to explore how could it be that you would send a person who should have been deported to a jurisdiction for a warrant that was 20 years old, that clearly there was not going to be a prosecution.

"Oddly enough, this individual was deported in 1994, in 1997, in 1998, in 2003, and in none of those instances did this ancient warrant prevent him from being deported. He was also convicted repeatedly of felony re-entry after removal and served 16 years in Federal Prison for that crime, and he just kept trying to get in. And I want to give credit to our Border Patrol because every time he tried to come back in, they caught him, which is exactly what they should do, and he was prosecuted.

"So we need to examine all of this, and knowing that none of it can bring your daughter back, but hopefully we will be able to improve the situation as – really – a tribute to your loss. And with that I would yield back, Mr. Chairman."

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