Escondido Mayor Sam Abed said his city’s decision to join legal action against California’s sanctuary state policies “is at the core of my mission” to “uphold the Constitution and also to keep my community safe.” He made his remarks during an interview Thursday on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.”
The Escondido City Council voted 4-1 Wednesday to join the Trump administration’s lawsuit against California, challenging the sanctuary policies limiting local cooperation with federal immigration enforcement officials.
Abed (shown above left), who emigrated from Lebanon and became a U.S. citizen, told guest host Katie Pavlich that he “came to this country to keep my family safe” and now sees himself “fighting for the safety of my family and the families of Escondido” by opposing sanctuary policies.
“I represent 150,000 of our residents. Our relationship with [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has] worked perfectly,” Abed said. “And we have deported over 2,000 illegal criminals from our city with our cooperation with ICE … As a result of our cooperation with ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], the crime in Escondido went down by 33 percent.”
“Now the ICE agents are on their own in the community, in our neighborhood at our stations, our transit stations, picking up criminals and innocent people,” Abed said. “I was elected mayor to uphold the Constitution and also to keep my community safe. This resolution to fight the state sanctuary law is at the core of my mission.”
Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín, however, defended California’s sanctuary policies, which hamstring local authorities’ ability to cooperate with ICE and other federal immigration enforcement officials. Arreguín (above right) insisted that most immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally are merely the “victims of a broken immigration system.”
“And certainly Escondido, they have a right to take positions on issues that are important to their community,” Arreguín said. “But Escondido doesn’t speak for Berkeley, and they don’t speak for the state of California. There are many cities throughout the Bay Area and the state of California that believe that sanctuary policies make communities safer.”
Arreguín insisted that Berkeley’s crime rate has dropped over the past 10 years, despite the city’s sanctuary policies.
“Even with our sanctuary policy, our police are still cooperating with federal agencies,” Arreguín argued. “There was an operation in my city a couple of weeks ago where [ICE’s] Homeland Security Investigations arrested an illegal immigrant who was engaged in drug crime. Our sanctuary policies did not stop that from happening.”
But Abed criticized Arreguín’s support of sanctuary policies, saying that Berkeley’s insistence upon shielding illegal immigrants and its refusal to cooperate in many other cases with federal immigration enforcement officials poses a risk “to every city in California and every state in the nation.”
“This mayor is in denial,” Abed said. “Giving sanctuary to illegal criminals and giving them more rights and protective rights more than the citizens is just immoral. It’s illegal. It’s unconstitutional. We need to keep our communities safe.”
Abed noted that he and his wife had to pay full tuition for his two daughters to attend a California state university while some illegal immigrants “pay less tuition in the states in the school system.”
“It’s clearly offensive. [California officials] are giving more rights — not only educationally, financially — they are harboring them now, they are giving them more rights. They lost track,” Abed said.
Abed said that Democrats in California and across the nation have “lost track” of the issues that are really important to their legal constituents.
“They are really emotional about the administration and the last election. Their emotion — this is clouding their good judgment of doing the right thing,” Abed said. “There is a disconnect between them and their constituents. I think you are going to see a pushback. I think the number of cities against the sanctuary state is going to grow … And I think there is a movement. I am very proud to lead this effort.”
“I cannot understand anybody who would give the illegal criminals protection from the law.”
Arreguín, however, argued that “sanctuary cities make communities safer” because illegal immigrant victims of domestic violence and those who witness crimes taking place are “more likely to report those crimes and seek the intervention of police [when] they know they’re not going to be deported.”
But Abed said that sanctuary policies are “just insane” and “immoral.”
“I cannot understand anybody who would give the illegal criminals protection from the law and treat — and more rights than are given to the citizens. It’s just unbelievable,” Abed said. “California is emotional. Gov. [Jerry] Brown [D] and the mayors, the progressive mayors and the legislators have lost sight of doing the right thing.”