Top Dem Jeffries Defends Sanctuary Policies in Wake of Officer Death

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D., N.Y.) on Sunday defended sanctuary policies that a California county sheriff blames for the death of an officer.

Appearing on ABC’s "This Week," Jeffries was asked about Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson’s indictment of California’s expansive sanctuary laws that prevent local law enforcement from cooperating with immigration authorities. Christianson said slain officer Ronil Singh would be alive today if California didn’t let go of arrested illegal immigrants, such as suspect Gustavo Perez Arriaga.

Jeffries argued sanctuary laws actually help law enforcement, contrary to Christianson's judgment.

"My experience in New York has been different, where members of the NYPD—clearly the most professional, highly trained law enforcement entity in the country, if not the world—has been that these sanctuary laws actually help promote public safety by encouraging cooperation, encouraging communication between community and police in a way that allows police to better do their job," Jeffries said.

Host Martha Raddatz took issue with Jeffries’ dodging her question about Singh’s death, but he maintained that his lack of familiarity with California statutes prevents him from responding to Christianson’s assessment.

"I'm not going to take issue with the sheriff's assessment of the situation, being unfamiliar with California laws," Jeffries said. "Clearly it's a human tragedy. Clearly we have to do better in terms of preventing these types of occurrences from taking place and keeping our law enforcement safe, to keep our communities safe. That's what Democrats intend to do and will continue to do on a bipartisan fashion."

In Sheriff Christianson’s view, California’s laws are what allowed the shooting to occur, saying police was "prohibited" from acting.

"Law enforcement was prohibited because of sanctuary laws, and that led to the encounter with Officer Singh," Christianson said. "I’m suggesting that the outcome could have been different if law enforcement wasn’t restricted, prohibited or had their hands tied because of political interference."