Give Americans The Right to Sue The Pants Off Sanctuary Jurisdictions

Written by Daniel Horowitz

Why is it that every single law designed to keep out illegal aliens gets turned on its head and every legal loophole gets magnified and exploited? That is because illegal aliens have tens of thousands of pro bono lawyers to distort the law on their behalf, but the sovereign American citizen has no legal help to enforce the laws that are being ignored or violated. One game-changing idea would be to give certain Americans standing to sue when immigration law is violated.

The current border crisis has its origins in one source: the ability of illegal aliens to sue our state and federal governments for simply enforcing our sovereignty, despite centuries of case law stating they have no standing in our country. Yet whenever Americans harmed by illegal aliens try to get standing to sue against lawlessness that affects their security and the public welfare, they are denied standing. Criminal smugglers can sue our government, yet Kate Steinle’s parents can’t sue San Francisco for harboring the illegal alien who killed their daughter. It’s time to turn the tables.

If the open-borders lobby is going to strip sovereignty from the democratically elected representatives and “pass” its legislation in the courts, then it should die by the courts as well. Illegal aliens are more powerful in the legal world than Americans. But what if we changed that equation? What if we create pressure against local governments that will have to fear lawsuits for not enforcing immigration law and especially for outright thwarting it? What if the federal government could be sued for not enforcing any of the 8 U.S.C. 1182 inadmissibilitiy requirements and letting in health concerns, criminals, public charge risks, and labor-seekers into the country? What if states and localities could be sued for violating 1373 (blocking law enforcement from communicating with ICE) and 1324 (harboring, shielding, and inducing illegal immigration)?

The secret antidote to the open-borders problem is simply to enforce current law. But the only way to do that is to even up the litigation score in this litigious society. Why is it that we barely hear about the daily examples of Americans killed or harmed by illegal aliens? We never hear about the fiscal burden, criminal burden, cultural problems in schools and other community centers. That would all change if there were a private right of action for victims of illegal aliens and other Americans or public officials to sue under the right circumstances. It would create an entire market to seek out whether a specific crime or cost was caused by illegal immigration or a particular illegal immigrant. It would change the narrative back to where it needs to be: protecting the interests of Americans over the aspirations of illegal aliens.

Recently, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) introduced a bill — S. 2059: Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act of 2019 — advertised as doing just that. Conversions might happen on the road to Damascus, but in politics, conversions tend to present themselves on the road to competitive Republican primaries. Tillis was never one to stand for sovereignty, but he now has a primary challenger who has the ability to self-fund, so he is naturally trying to get on the right side of immigration. Conservatives should welcome this change, if it is actually more than just a press release, and demand that Tillis use his prestige with GOP leadership to actually force a vote on this bill.

However, the bill does need some tweaking. As advertised, it offers a private right of action for victims of illegal aliens who were previously released by sanctuary cities to sue the sanctuary jurisdictions. It also withholds some funding from those same jurisdictions. However, there is a problem with the definition of a sanctuary. “A jurisdiction would not be deemed a ‘sanctuary jurisdiction’ based solely on policies where officials do not share information or comply with detainers for illegal immigrants who come forward as a victim or a witness to a criminal offense,” wrote Tillis in a press release.

This will essentially invite numerous cartel and gang members to invoke the victim or witness exception and have the locals cover for them. There is no reason to put this exception into the bill. By definition, anyone arrested and processed in a jail who is an illegal alien should be turned over to ICE. The entire notion that there is a concern of victims of crime not speaking out for fear of deportation is absurd, because we are not talking about local law enforcement informing on people in their houses and on the streets; we are talking about someone arrested for a crime.

If Tillis were committed to making this bill work beyond a campaign press release, he should reintroduce section 2203(C) of the “Goodlatte bill,” which creates this right to sue sanctuaries without this gaping loophole. Also, the Goodlatte bill authorizes the private cause of action if a jurisdiction releases an illegal alien, in violation of a detainer request, who was arrested for a crime. The Tillis bill limits it to those released after being convicted of a crime. So many criminals are never convicted of crimes but are dangerous nonetheless. Why should an illegal alien who is arrested for assault or robbery but never convicted be allowed to remain in this country? We shouldn’t have to land a conviction on an illegal alien in order to comply with immigration law.

Jessica Vaughan, who monitors sanctuary cities for the Center for Immigration Studies, believes that allowing victims of illegal aliens to sue jurisdictions will be a game-changer:

“I have heard over and over again from sheriffs in very different parts of the country that they want to cooperate with ICE and know that it’s the right thing to do,” said Vaughan, “but they are prevented from doing so by concern that taxpayers will have to foot the bill to fight predatory lawsuits from the ACLU and other anti-enforcement advocacy groups. Some sheriffs have told me that the only reason they don’t cooperate is because the county attorney told them that they were afraid of having to pay out sums of money to people who were mistakenly sought by ICE, or because of rulings by judges in other parts of the country (even if not binding on other regions). Yet these same county officials were not afraid of the public outrage at the release of deportable criminal aliens back to communities to re-offend.”

“Allowing families or individuals who are victimized because of sanctuary policies to sue would definitely change the calculation that some of these jurisdictions are making. They should be doing the right thing for the sake of public safety, but if they end up doing the right thing because of fear of lawsuits, that is a game-changer, because right now the legal deck is stacked in favor of the anti-enforcement side.”

Before American taxpayers are forced to pay for the rope to hang themselves, Republicans should stake this election out on the issue of giving American taxpayers and victims of crime as much standing in court as those invading our border.

This article was originally published at