The State of the Union was certainly very uplifting, unifying, and even quite moderately non-ideological on policy. That is, until the president began discussing sanctuary cities. That’s when he took the gloves off and served some red meat with the veggies.
Facts in hand, the president exposed for the nation the dastardly deeds of sanctuary cities in hard numbers. “Last year, our brave ICE officers arrested more than 120,000 criminal aliens charged with nearly 10,000 burglaries, 5,000 sexual assaults, 45,000 violent assaults, and 2,000 murders,” revealed Trump. “Tragically, there are many cities in America where radical politicians have chosen to provide sanctuary for these criminal illegal aliens. In Sanctuary Cities, local officials order police to release dangerous criminal aliens to prey upon the public, instead of handing them over to ICE to be safely removed.”
I watched Nancy Pelosi shake her head behind the president as he was uttering these words. What exactly what she shaking her head at? Which point does she contest? That these cities and states, like her home state of California, release dangerous illegal aliens arrested for murder and rape? Just this week, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes announced that 1,500 illegal aliens with detainers were released last year. Of those inmates, 238 were re-arrested in for committing new preventable crimes, including assault and battery, rape, and robbery.
In other words, the president got them around the neck. I’ve always said, Democrats cannot withstand a sustained national focus on their policy against federal immigration law, because it’s truly indefensible. These are exclusively illegal aliens who have committed additional crimes that land them in local jails. No sane voter wants this.
Speaking on behalf of the thousands of unnoticed victims of illegal aliens, the president highlighted an angel family sitting in the gallery. For months, Democrats kept focusing like a laser beam on the needs, wants, and desires of illegal aliens at the border. What about the American victims? The president gave them their recognition.
The president brought up the case of Junior “Gustavo” Garcia-Ruiz, an illegal alien repeat offender, who was charged with the murder of Rocky Jones in Tulare County, California, last year. He was in jail just days before allegedly going on a killing spree and committing at least 11 crimes in a 24-hour period. Yet despite six prior arrests, the ICE detainer was ignored.
One of the victims of his bloody rampage was a 51-year-old American named Rocky Jones. Rocky was at a gas station when this vile criminal fired eight bullets at him from close range, murdering him in cold blood. Rocky left behind a devoted family, including his brothers who loved him more than anything. One of his grieving brothers is here with us tonight. Jody, would you please stand? Jody, our hearts weep for your loss — and we will not rest until you have justice.
The president then called on Congress to pass legislation giving victims of sanctuary cities the right to sue government officials who violate federal immigration laws.
“The United States of America should be a sanctuary for law-abiding Americans — not criminal aliens!” thundered Trump to rousing applause.
Now it’s time for the president to make this a reality and allow the eloquence of his speech to lead to successful action. Sanctuaries might be evil and unpopular, but at present, they are winning. Their numbers have doubled over the past three years, and they’re driving ICE’s removal numbers into the ground.
What was evident last night is that Trump has the greatest bully pulpit ever. If he delivered a major address with angel families right before a budget vote and demanded the defunding of sanctuary cities, it would place the Democrats in a very tough position. He’d be wise to make this issue his priority headed into the election and do the following:
The president should do all of this in the lead-up to the September budget deadline. Rather than running away from a budget fight over criminal aliens right before an election, he should embrace that opportunity to win the election based on this issue. He has the ability to use the bully pulpit to its fullest extent. According to a Harvard-Harris poll, 72 percent of overall voters and 76 percent of suburban voters oppose issuing driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. Imagine how many more oppose harboring dangerous criminal aliens. There is no greater issue over which to force a budget fight.
Overall, there were good policy suggestions in the speech, and there were liberal ones inspired by his more liberal advisers. They already got their stuff enacted in the budget bills and defense bill: an amnesty for Liberian illegal aliens, a “second step” act for criminals, paid federal leave for already overpaid federal workers, more low-skilled worker visas, and 4,000 more visas for unvetted Afghans. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have gotten their fair share of priorities. Now is the time to put effective action behind the conservative elements of the president’s eloquent speech.
The lesson of last night, headed into a second term, is that the eloquent speeches are needed most at the times when the policy outcomes are fully in play.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.