A Thought on Sanctuary Cities

The most cogent argument I have heard supporting this movement is that local jurisdictions don’t want to dissipate time and resources enforcing federal law. But there is something a bit odd about this. If that is the real basis, then why broadcast this policy? Why not just quietly do nothing? The only explanation that makes sense to me is that authorities are inviting violators of immigration law to come and live in their cities. Hence we have the term “sanctuary city”. This is far more than prudent husbanding of scarce resources; it is actively thwarting the law.

A second argument sometimes given is that participating in this enforcement will sabotage vital community relationships, and that consequently illegal immigrants won’t help police in their investigations. That probably is true to a degree, although concrete evidence supporting this claim is weak. Nonetheless, whatever fears do exist are mainly attributable to misinformation. Police don’t query immigration databases for casual contacts in the course of their activities. The only time this happens is when someone is arrested, fingerprinted and booked. There is no real reason for a potential informant to be wary, but those opposing cooperation with federal authorities deliberately aggravate these fears by concealing the truth.

The real situation, in my opinion, is that those behind the sanctuary city movement simply don’t agree with restraints on immigration, no matter what the circumstances. They recall our virtually open doors many decades ago and the enormous benefits that our country derived from these newcomers. They also feel sympathy for those fleeing poverty or oppression or even those simply seeking a better life.

The arguments discussed above are subterfuge and are dishonest. A frank national discourse on our values and how we wish to express them is more pertinent and timely. These are no doubt perilous times. We cannot simply wish them away even with the purest motivations. But we should be clearheaded about what we might sacrifice in our search for security in an insecure world.