Students show their support for a proposed ordinance declaring a city a sanctuary for all residents regardless of immigration status. (Kevin Sullivan/The Orange County Register via AP)

The sheriff of Suffolk County, N.Y., on the eastern reaches of Long Island, has ended the jurisdiction’s “sanctuary” policy for illegal immigrants detained for other crimes.

A county sheriff on Long Island will no longer seek a judge’s order before detaining inmates charged with crimes that are wanted by federal agents for deportation….Local police in specially designated sanctuary cities do not investigate or report a person’s immigrant status to federal authorities unless they have a convincing reason. [Sheriff Vincent] DeMarco says his decision is purely based on legal analysis and not politics. The sheriff stopped holding immigrants wanted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in September 2014.

Some of the coverage has focused on the fact that this comes just a month before Trump takes office, but this really shouldn’t be a political issue at all. Whatever one’s view on immigration, sanctuary jurisdictions that protect people actually wanted by the feds for deportation are just a terrible idea.

With the immigration enforcement system strained, even President Obama saw the wisdom in focusing on actual illegal immigrant criminals and people already ordered deported — precisely the kind of people who will be on ICE’s list. The position that actual criminals should be welcomed with open arms, or even protected with taxpayer funds and encouraged to stay, is not compassionate at all, it’s just insane. It also obviously undermines any argument for relaxing immigration laws or expanding quotas to welcome more immigrants legally.

One could argue that Obama failed to do enough, or that he neglected other priorities, but his prioritization of deporting criminals first is just common sense — really, it’s more important than border enforcement. And Obama’s administration really did step up the number of convicted criminals it deported, demonstrating that there was and probably still is room to improve. This shouldn’t be a partisan or even an ideological issue — anything that makes the removal of illegal immigrant criminals more efficient and quick is just a no-brainer.

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12/28/16 9:25 AM

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