So I got an email from Utah Gov. Spencer Cox yesterday. Actually, it wasn’t as big a deal as it sounds. I got the same email as everyone else on the list. I get similar mass emails from Burgess Owens, Mitt Romney, and John Curtis, and occasionally I get one from Mike Lee. I’ve had my differences with the governor on occasion, but he is one of two governors that I have not managed to tick off as a broadcaster and columnist.
I was drawn to this one because Cox assured me that Utah would never become a sanctuary state under his leadership. Cox corrected me, although I had always believed that Utah was not a sanctuary state. The email stated that the Salt Lake Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement had drafted a memorandum that Utah was a sanctuary for illegal immigrants. Cox said, “Utah welcomes legal immigration, people who follow our laws and are integral to our communities.” We must, however, uphold our laws in order to ensure that all those who call Utah home are safe and happy.
This is a classic, everyday federal SNAFU. Ah! Ah, those were the good old days. Remember the days when we only had to worry about an overpaid and underworked bureaucrat who issued mounds upon mounds of paper, making stupid, tone-deaf decisions? It was a good time, but it’s 2023 and we are fast approaching 2024. Cox said, as a certain corrupt, befuddled man whose preferred pronoun was POTUS, “C’mon man!” Cox noted that, when the people of Utah, especially the Beehive State sheriffs raised their objections to this memo, ICE immediately retracted it and revoked it.
In a press release issued by Cox’s Office, the Governor, Senate President J. Stuart Adams and House Speaker Brad Wilson stated that ICE rescinded its memo following a meeting with Utah officials.
The border crisis and the increase in ICE arrests that resulted from it is a federal failure. It’s not a failure of state or local governments. Utah’s local and state law enforcement officials have no obligation to act as a backup for federal immigration problems that have existed for years. Utah’s sheriffs have every right to refuse to sign any agreements with ICE when ICE demands become excessive.
The Utah Sheriffs’ Association released its own press release, which included some interesting details. The association said that the memo is an attempt to make Utah a “sanctuary state” by ICE field director Michael Bernacke. It also stated that it makes absurd claims about Utah sheriffs being responsible for destabilizing ICE law enforcement capabilities.
According to the association, in addition to Governor Herbert’s office, the message was also sent to Utah’s state legislators and political candidates including Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs. Staggs’ press release is mentioned in the press release. KSL reported that excerpts from the release stated, “Over two-thirds of illegal immigrants arrested last fiscal year have been released back into their neighborhoods because of a lack of cooperation by local authorities.” These individuals often have a history of violent or sexual crimes.
Staggs was upset by the “name-calling” and said that he would not be releasing Staggs.
I never blamed the sheriffs of any county nor did I support the absurdly liberal policies of the Biden Administration, which make a mockery out of the rule of law. I made my statement after hours of discussion with ICE officials and others who understand the problem. I did this in my role as a Mayor and not as a candidate for political office. I ask again that our state leaders support our county sheriffs so they can have the necessary resources and protection they need.
The association stated in its release that sheriffs with ICE contracts are faced with “endless” lists of federal regulations that contain over 700 pages and do not reflect constitutional rights or case law. Some of these requirements grant detainees preferential treatment that is not available to incarcerated U.S. Citizens. According to Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith, the Association President, sheriffs receive instructions on what type of lotion they can give detainees. In the press release, it was stated that sheriffs working with ICE were audited by D.C. interest groups and threatened with lawsuits. This increased liability not only on the sheriffs but also on Utah’s taxpayers making it impossible for them to house ICE prisoners.
Bernacke’s move is not surprising in the 21st century. It’s become a standard of our government. The Utah Sheriff’s Association, and Utah leaders for calling Bernanke to task. If Staggs is serious about claiming the Senate seat, he may want to pay more attention to his constituents. Utah does not need to swap one Romney for another.