BY HUGH TURLEY — A recent opinion column in the January 2017 Hyattsville Life & Times stated that City Councilmember Patrick Paschall would introduce a bill “to make Hyattsville a sanctuary city — a place where police don’t ask about immigration status and where the city won’t assist the federal government in the deportation of undocumented immigrants.”

The column stated that it is important to fight the Trump administration. Making Hyattsville a sanctuary city could harm residents of the city. CNN News reported that President Trump has pledged to block federal funding to sanctuary cities within his first 100 days.

In 2015, Congressman Steny Hoyer announced that the Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department would receive more than $390,000 in federal funding from the Department of Homeland Security. If Councilman Paschall’s bill succeeds in making Hyattsville a sanctuary city, how much federal money would the city risk losing?

There is another potential harm to residents that could come from being a sanctuary city. Last year, in preparing for a congressional hearing, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency released statistics on criminal illegal aliens the agency caught and released back into society during fiscal year 2015. The largest number of convictions (12,307), were for driving under the influence of alcohol — DUI and DWI.  

Studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that arrests for drinking and driving are highest among the Hispanic population. An article in USA Today reported,  “According to the University of North Carolina’s Highway Safety Research Center, 7.04% of Hispanic drivers involved in crashes in the state in 2005 were suspected of driving while intoxicated. That compares with 2.82% of whites in crashes and 2.29% of African-Americans, according to Eric Rodgman, a researcher at the center.”

Are the Hyattsville police and citizens of the city prepared for an increase in drunk driving that could accompany Hyattsville being a sanctuary city?

Is the proper role of the Hyattsville City Council to fight Donald Trump and serve illegal aliens or to serve the best interests of the citizens of Hyattsville?

Hugh Turley is a resident of Hyattsville. The opinions expressed here are his own.