In his State of the Union address, President Donald Trump made clear his disgust with sanctuary state California. During the administration’s first three years, the Justice Department was unable to convert its multiple threats to California and other blatant sanctuary havens to withhold funding.

In March 2018, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions traveled to Sacramento to address several hundred California law enforcement officers. He defended the White House’s lawsuit against California’s sanctuary practices, and correctly noted that federal law is the nation’s “supreme law.”

Then-Gov. Jerry Brown quickly demonized Sessions, and accused him of waging war against California.

The first round went to California as the state blatantly ignored warnings, and the feds failed to use its full power to force Brown and equally contemptuous state Attorney General Xavier Becerra to comply. Under California’s permissive laws, the state — home to an estimated 2.5 million illegal aliens — protects illegal immigrants by limiting state and municipal cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

For the ensuing two years, California’s illegal sanctuary status continued. ICE only apprehended a fraction of the number of illegal immigrants in California versus the number arrested in Texas. For example, the Los Angeles ICE field office averaged only about 35 criminally charged arrests monthly compared to 300 per month for Dallas in nonsanctuary state Texas.

According to the Pew Research Center, Los Angeles metro has twice as many illegal aliens as the Dallas metro area, which means that Los Angeles ICE doesn’t arrest thousands of criminal aliens.

Nationwide in 2018, ICE issued detainers for criminal aliens collectively responsible for 2,500 murders, nearly 30 percent of the nation’s 9,049 homicide arrests. More than 3 million aliens with criminal records currently live in the United States.

Regardless of the feckless, hallow sanctuary defenses that brazen sanctuary advocates put forward, the aggregate statistics are shocking and indefensible.

Earlier this month, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes announced that 1,500 illegal aliens with detainers were released in 2019. Of those, 238 were re-arrested for committing new preventable crimes, including assault and battery, rape and robbery.

The Immigration Reform website found that the recidivism rate among criminal aliens is 25 percent. Nevertheless, during the last three years, the number of sanctuary cities has doubled.

Individual victims’ stories are heartbreaking. As part of his State of the Union address, Trump referenced Junior “Gustavo” Garcia-Ruiz, a repeat illegal alien offender with previous arrests for assault, robbery and drug offenses, who was charged with murdering Tulare County resident Rocky Jones.

On Dec. 18, 2018, at a local gas station, Garcia-Ruiz shot Jones in the face several times. He was incarcerated just days before he murdered Jones, and he also committed multiple other crimes within a 24-hour period.

Yet despite his numerous prior arrests and earlier deportations, the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department ignored the ICE detainer. Later, during the same month that he murdered Jones, Garcia-Ruiz died during a police chase.

After telling Jones’ story, Trump urged Congress to pass legislation that would allow sanctuary city victims to sue government officials who violate federal immigration laws.

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., promptly introduced S. 2059, the Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act, that would give local officials immunity for assisting federal immigration officers and would also allow Americans to pursue legal action against sanctuary cities.

S. 2059 is all well and good. But legislation that empowers the federal government to swiftly act against sanctuary cities and their irresponsible leaders is already on the books. 8 USC 1324 states that a person who knowingly “conceals, harbors or shields from detection” illegal aliens is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

The time to end mollycoddling the more than 564 sanctuary cities and 10 sanctuary states is over. Not a single tangible reason exists to tolerate American taxpayers and citizens funding the costly, craven sanctuary city fallout with money and lives.

— Joe Guzzardi is an analyst and researcher with Progressives for Immigration Reform who now lives in Pittsburgh. He can be reached at, or follow him on Twitter: @joeguzzardi19. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

Joe Guzzardi

Joe Guzzardi

Joe Guzzardi is a nationally syndicated columnist writing about immigration and related social issues. A California native who now lives in Pittsburgh, he’s a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who can be reached at The opinions expressed are his own.