The recent murder of San Franciscan Kate Steinle by a documented felon and five-time deported illegal alien has focused long overdue attention on the "sanctuary" policies of over 300 American cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
But the murder of Steinle is hardly an isolated event. These insidious sanctuary policies, ideally aimed at preventing deportation of those charged with minor crimes, are responsible for criminal victimization of thousands of citizens.
And, of course, the Obama administration has adopted what is essentially a nationwide sanctuary policy by refusing to enforce many aspects of existing immigration law. In fact, in 2010 it proudly announced it would forego legal action against sanctuary jurisdictions.
It's absurd for a city or state to have a policy of refusing to obey federal law. Wasn't ignoring federal law the policy of southern segregationists trying to thwart civil rights laws?
And isn't this what some Kentucky county clerks and officials in other states are doing in refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses and against whom the ACLU is taking legal action?
Government at all levels has a duty to enforce the law, especially where non-enforcement is literally killing our fellow citizens.
And it's not just in sanctuary cities where citizens have fallen prey. Mark Hinkel, five-year old Blake Cohorn of Lexington and Wanda Beach of Somerset were all killed in the last three years in accidents where undocumented immigrants were driving drunk. Douglas Saylor was murdered in his Lexington home in 2012 by an illegal immigrant; and for those with longer memories, University of Kentucky student Chris Maier was killed in Lexington in 1997 by Angel Resendiz, the "Railroad Killer.
And of course, illegally entering our country is itself a crime.
These aren't isolated cases of criminality. Records of the Fayette County Detention Center we obtained through a state open-records request disclose that since 2010 over 1,200 illegal immigrants have been booked into that facility for crimes including murder, kidnapping, rape and felonious assault.
Despite the efforts of apologists and open-borders advocates to conceal it, an illegal immigrant crime wave is sweeping America. Consider these staggering facts:
■ Illegal immigrants account for only 3.5 percent of U.S population, but represented 36.7 percent of people who received federal sentences in 2014, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
■ According to the March 2015 ICE Weekly Departures and Detention Report, 168,680 convicted criminal immigrants subject to removal orders and another 179,018 convicted immigrants with deportation cases pending were at large.
Government's first priority is to protect our citizens' safety. Instead of tolerating defiance of federal law, the federal government should end all aid to cities with sanctuary policies.
American cities and states should turn this diabolical idea on its head and create "citizen sanctuaries" by adopting policies such as:
■ Cooperating with federal authorities in enforcing existing immigration law;
■ Mandating employer use of the E-Verify system to deny employment to illegal immigrants and imposing severe penalties on employers who fail to comply or who hire them. Cities such as Lexington can legally enact such laws.
■ Adopting a law like that in Fremont, Neb., which requires landlords to verify legal status of all tenants or be fined.
■ Denying driver's licenses to the undocumented and increasing criminal penalties for driving without a license or insurance or under the influence.
■ Cutting off all financial assistance to the undocumented.
Our nation exists for the benefit of our citizens, not illegal immigrants. It's time our governments enacted policies to protect our citizens from those who have no right to even be in our country.
Dan M. Rose and Ron Vissing are leaders of Americans First, Inc., based in Lexington.