Truth Test: Getting the facts behind Kansas political ads

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TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — It is election season and you may be seeing quite a few political ads during commercial breaks. Our goal is to keep you informed so you can make the best decision for you at the polls in November. We are doing a truth test on the ads that run in the race for the U.S. Senate seat in Kansas.

Running for the open U.S. Senate seat is current Congressman Dr. Roger Marshall as the Republican candidate and current Kansas Senator Barbara Bollier as the Democratic candidate. Jason Buckley is running as a Libertarian.

The first ad we are taking a closer look at is in support of Marshall. The ad focuses on illegal immigration and sanctuary cities in the United States.

One Nation PAC

Who’s paying for the ad?

It is important to know where political ads come from. Sometimes candidates will pay for and create ads themselves using campaign funds. Alternatively, political action committees (PACs) are groups that fund and produce political ads.

This specific ad was paid for by the One Nation PAC. This group has close ties to the Republican Party. Its CEO, Steven J. Law, previously served as chief of staff for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Breaking down the ad

The ad begins with an announcer who says, “Portland, New York, San Francisco. Sanctuary cities defy federal law and give safe harbor to illegal immigrant criminals.”

Let’s start with some definitions

There is not a universal agreement on what defines a sanctuary city, also known as a safe city. But, generally, it refers to any city, county or state that chooses to limit the extent of local resources used to assist in federal immigration cases.

That could include local officers not asking about immigration status. It could also include a local agency not honoring a detainer from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). A detainer is the document federal officials send when an undocumented immigrant is arrested, asking the agency to hold the person until they can be taken into federal custody.

The claim that such cities protect undocumented immigrants is somewhat misleading, as the community does not necessarily protect the immigrants, but can choose to not help federal agencies with deportation.

But the other claim that sanctuary cities “defy federal law” is false. The University of Washington School of Law says “the law doesn’t require local authorities to detain illegal immigrants just because their federal counterparts make a request. In fact, federal courts across the country have held that compliance with these requests is voluntary.” The Department of Justice does not mandate that local agencies assist with immigration detainers and cases. Such cities are not blocking federal law enforcement, they are opting to not use their resources to assist. Federal immigration law states in section 287.7: “The detainer is a request that such agency advise the Department, prior to release of the alien, in order for the Department to arrange to assume custody, in situations when gaining immediate physical custody is either impracticable or impossible.” (Emphasis added.)

The ad goes on to say, “Congressman Roger Marshall and Senator Jerry Moran are fighting to secure our border and enforce America’s immigration laws. Representative Marshall and Senator Moran have voted to crack down on liberal sanctuary cities and take federal money away from these havens for dangerous criminals.”

The first part of that statement is true. In 2017, Rep. Marshall voted in favor of the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act. This bill would prohibit states, counties and cities from not complying or cooperating with federal immigration law, or face losing federal grant money. This bill passed through the U.S. House of Representatives but never made it to a vote in the U.S. Senate. In 2016, the U.S. Senate introduced the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act that would prevent sanctuary cities from receiving federal grant money. However, this bill never went up for a vote.

The second half of that statement – “havens for dangerous criminals” – implying that all undocumented immigrants are violent criminals – is false. Multiple organizations, including right-leaning and left-leaning and non-partisan groups, agree that the majority of undocumented immigrants arrested or deported are not accused of or convicted of a violent offense. Pew Research from 2017 found most undocumented individuals deported had been convicted of, or were awaiting trial on traffic or drug crimes. The Pew Research found that of those deported, eight percent were previously convicted of assault and 11 percent had pending charges of assault. The research also found “Other violent crime categories were much less common. Sexual assault, kidnapping and homicide each made up 1% or fewer of both pending charges and prior convictions.”

Here are some additional sources to back this up:

What’s happening now?

The U.S. House and Senate both have a new bill called the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act. The bills have only been introduced in both chambers, but if passed into law, federal grant funding for public works, economic and community development would no longer go to sanctuary cities.

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