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A Common Sense Analysis of Sanctuary Cities

Compassion or Naiveté?

April 3, 2017

The refugees and immigrants who come to America to escape poverty and oppression need safe haven. The vast majority of them are good, hardworking people, and how they get here is unimportant. Compassion for immigrants overrides federal immigration laws.

That represents a basic tenet of the liberal mindset, the force behind sanctuary cities.

The number of sanctuary cities expanded rapidly during Barack Obama’s administration. The Washington Times reported in 2015 that there were more than 340 sanctuary cities in America. This year, it reported that the number had grown to nearly 500. According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), 279 municipalities refused to cooperate in at least one case during 2016. That resulted in the release of more than 2,000 illegal immigrants that ICE had been trying to deport.

Those who support the notion of sanctuary cities should consider these points:

1. Sanctuary cities violate federal law.

Cities and towns that harbor illegal aliens often cite the 10th Amendment, interpreted by Supreme Court rulings to essentially mean that the federal government cannot “commandeer” local jurisdictions to enforce federal law.

While the “anti-commandeering doctrine” may be debated among legal scholars, there’s another federal law that’s not so ambiguous.

Under Title 8 of the U.S. Code, it’s a crime to harbor or “shield from detection” any alien who entered the country illegally. In fact, it’s a felony, punishable by a prison term of up to five years, or 10 years if it’s done for monetary gain.

2. Sanctuary cities encourage illegal immigration.

Immigrants and refugees who come here legally undergo a lengthy process. If they believed they could bypass that process, evade scrutiny, and still be guaranteed sanctuary, there would be no reason to wait in line. There would be every reason to migrate here surreptitiously. And even if most are non-violent, they will include drug traffickers, human traffickers, violent criminals, and terrorists exploiting the situation, eventually creating chaos in our cities.

3. They divert limited resources from our own needy citizens.

How can uneducated, untrained, non-English speaking immigrants contribute to our economy? The monies spent to feed, clothe, shelter, and educate illegal immigrants deprive U.S. citizens of sorely needed benefits. Considering our floundering education system, our abused and neglected children at home, and our $20 trillion in national debt, can we really afford to rescue the world’s population?

4. They expose our citizens to preventable danger.

Advocates cite studies suggesting that immigrants are no more likely to be involved in criminal activity than are American citizens. By correlating a decrease in violent crime with an increase in immigration, they conclude that immigrants are less prone to violence. That simplistic conclusion ignores an array of other factors, and has no relevance to our population of illegal aliens.

In fact, there is evidence that illegal immigration is dangerous to America.

Most would acknowledge that, to a large degree, we’re all products of our environment. Many of those young adults who arrive here illegally have been steeped in brutality their entire lives. Refugees from El Salvador, for example, fled one of the most violent countries in the world. Some of them brought that violence with them, organizing the vicious MS-13 gang, now spreading throughout our country.

Our domestic crime rate is nothing to be proud of, but it pales in comparison to many other countries. There’s no justification for importing more violence.

There’s also an absurd and fallacious argument that sanctuary policies somehow make communities safer by establishing trust and cooperation between illegal aliens and authorities. The deep mistrust of government that refugees bring with them is no more likely to evaporate here than is their fear of the brutal gangs often thriving in sanctuary cities.

This is not the first time in recent history that Democrats have lost sight of reason in their quest for noble causes. Harboring unscreened and potentially dangerous illegal aliens and refugees may gratify their altruistic compulsions, but countless American victims have proven that it’s anything but noble. It’s insanity to expose themselves, their families, the entire country to increased danger, while blithely assuring critics that illegal aliens, most of them anyway, are harmless.

There’s something else to consider. One hundred and sixty years ago, our country was also deeply divided over states’ rights. The division was along geographic, philosophical, and political lines. The conflagration it led to should have taught us the destructive potential of widespread internal strife, even for a great nation. Democrats were wrong then, and they’re wrong today.

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Peter Lemiska has spent more than 28 years in government service. He is a former Senior Special Agent of the U.S. Secret Service and an Air Force veteran. His political commentaries have been widely published online and in print.