Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle sat down with Channel 2’s Craig Lucie to discuss whether City of Decatur is a sanctuary city in violation of state law.

PolitiFact: Cagle links ‘sanctuary cities,’ homicides; data doesn’t

Casey Cagle, who is running for governor, told an Atlanta news station that the City of Decatur may be in violation of a state law prohibiting sanctuary cities. “Sanctuary city” is a term commonly used for a jurisdiction that limits its cooperation with immigration authorities.

“Well, they are not cooperating with (U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement), and the important feature of this is that criminal illegal aliens, it was demonstrated with a Homeland Security study, that showed 120 murders took place that could have been prevented had communities been working with ICE and Homeland Security,” Cagle told WSB-TV’s Craig Lucie.

We found that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has not done a study on this issue. Cagle’s office pointed us to a 2015 letter from the Senate Judiciary Committee, which said that according to ICE data, “up to 121 homicides in the U.S. could have been avoided” between fiscal years 2010 and 2014 if ICE had deported criminal immigrants instead of releasing them back into the United States. That letter is not about sanctuary cities’ lack of cooperation with ICE.

David Lapan, a DHS spokesman, said neither DHS or ICE had published a report showing that murders could have been prevented in communities if they complied with immigration authorities. “However, there are instances where criminal aliens who were released from jails — without allowing ICE to take custody — then went on to commit additional crimes, including murder,” Lapan said.

But information Cagle’s office provided did not support the claim that 120 murders took place due to sanctuary city policies.

A June 12, 2015, letter from Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and former Sen. Jeff Sessions, who chaired the Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, specified that 121 criminal immigrants were charged with homicide after their release from ICE custody from fiscal years 2010 and 2014. Of those 121:

• 33 were released on a bond set by the Justice Department’s Executive Office of Immigration Review;

• 24 were released because a 2001 Supreme Court case, Zadvydas vs. Davis, prevents the indefinite detention of immigrants who can’t be deported (some countries won’t take back their nationals ordered removed);

• 64 were released on ICE’s discretion.

The letter does not say the homicides for which the 121 people were charged could have been prevented if communities or sanctuary cities had cooperated with ICE.

The Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that favors low immigration levels, reviewed data related to the 121 criminal immigrants.

“This tally does not include aliens who were released by sanctuary jurisdictions, nor those aliens that were released by local law enforcement agencies after ICE declined to take them into custody due to Obama administration prioritization policies. This list includes only those aliens that ICE arrested and then released,” the center reported in March 2016.

Cagle’s overarching message is that homicides could have been prevented if criminal immigrants were deported, his office said.

“The safety and security of every Georgian has been, and always will be, the top priority of Lt. Gov. Cagle,” said Bo Butler, Cagle’s chief of staff. “The point in referencing this shocking number of murders is that Homeland Security concluded at least 121 homicides were committed by convicted criminal illegal aliens. Had deportation occurred following the previous convictions, this loss of life could have been prevented.”

Our ruling

DHS said it had not published a report such as Cagle cited. Cagle’s office actually referred to a 2015 letter from the Senate Judiciary Committee that said up to 121 homicides could have been avoided if ICE had deported criminal immigrants. While the letter started off saying 121 homicides were preventable, the document focuses on 121 being the number of criminal immigrants who were charged with homicide after being released by ICE. The letter does not claim the homicides could have been avoided if sanctuary policies not been in place.

Cagle’s statement is not accurate. We rate it False.

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