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Government & Politics

Sanctuary City Showdown

Trump faces a stiff challenge upending this part of the status quo.

Arnold Ahlert · Nov. 21, 2016

“To be clear about what Chicago is, it always will be a sanctuary city. To all those who are, after Tuesday’s election, very nervous and filled with anxiety as we’ve spoken to, you are safe in Chicago, you are secure in Chicago and you are supported in Chicago. Chicago will always be a sanctuary city.” —Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Perhaps nothing defines progressive arrogance better than the idea the Rule of Law can be ignored when it doesn’t align with the Left’s “superior” wisdom. Thus, of all the battles president-elect Donald Trump will wage against entrenched progressivism, the effort to deconstruct sanctuary cities is one of the most important.

Trump has the law on his side. Section 1373 of the U.S. Federal Code is clear: “Notwithstanding any other provision of Federal, State, or local law, a Federal, State, or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.”

It further notes that no person or agency may prohibit, or in any way restrict, the same entities from exchanging such information with ICE, maintaining it, or exchanging it with any other Federal, State, or local government entity. Reciprocally, ICE is expected to respond to those entities “seeking to verify or ascertain the citizenship or immigration status of any individual within the jurisdiction of the agency for any purpose authorized by law, by providing the requested verification or status information.”

There’s also Section 133 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act of 1996 that allows the U.S. attorney general to enter into an agreement with a state, or any political subdivision therein related, to carry out “the investigation, apprehension, or detention of aliens in the United States.” This authorizes the AG to train local police for the purposes of identifying and detaining illegals.

Despite these statutes, more than 340 municipalities in the nation have been identified by ICE as having polices non-cooperative with, or obstructive of, law enforcement.

A report released last August by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) illuminates the damning consequences of that defiance: Between January 2014 and September 2015, more than 17,000 ICE detainers were rejected by these municipalities — including about 11,800 detainers for individuals with prior criminal histories.

Detailed information of crimes committed by illegals would go a long way toward underscoring the recklessness of sanctuary city policies and galvanizing public opinion against them. Yet the same government agencies that crunch numerous sets of crime statistics are either unable — or unwilling — to provide comprehensive data on illegal alien criminal activity. Former DOJ attorney J. Christian Adams, who characterizes immigrant crime as a “wave of staggering proportions,” explains why: “These numbers would expose how serious the problem is and make the government look bad.”

How bad? U.S. Commission on Civil Rights member Peter Kirsanow released hard numbers for illegal aliens “imprisoned for homicide-related offenses” in five states — Arizona, California, Florida, New York and Texas — with high illegal alien populations. Assuming they only committed one murder apiece, these illegals accounted for approximately 5,400 homicides.

For illegal immigrant advocates, that level of slaughter is apparently tolerable because “using the data we have, it seems impossible to responsibly claim that those immigrants are more likely to commit crimes than their American-born neighbors,” writes columnist Alan Gomez. In other words, Americans are supposed to take solace from the idea that people who shouldn’t be here are at all might be murdering, raping, molesting and otherwise accosting them at lower rates than American criminals are.

It doesn’t get more intellectually or morally bankrupt than that.

A Trump administration aims to cut federal funding for sanctuary cities. By contrast, until Congressman John Culbertson (R-TX) used his position as chairman of the Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee on Appropriations to force the Obama administration to reverse course, it was actually rewarding sanctuary cities with hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grant money.

Thus, is it any wonder why politicians in cities like Chicago, New York, Seattle, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland, Denver and Washington, DC, etc., insist they will maintain their sanctuary status? Mayor Emanuel, whose city has endured more than 600 murders and 3,000 shootings so far this year, epitomizes their arrogance. “I would say to the president-elect that the idea that you’re going to penalize Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia — these are the economic, cultural and intellectual energy of this country,” he contended.

No, they are not. They are leftist strongholds populated by elitist, illegal-immigration-supporting officials who believe they’re entitled to defy the law and embrace de facto anarchy.

Trump’s efforts to stop this nonsense will be hindered by one certainty and one possibility. In South Dakota v. Dole, the Supreme Court ruled that any withholding of federal funds by Congress must be “reasonably related” to the purposes for which those funds are allocated. Thus, it is likely law enforcement agencies in various locales will take the hit, and it remains to be seen if political officials will be willing to endure the likely wrath of American citizens who realize their safety is being held hostage to progressive-inspired lawlessness.

It also remains to be seen if a GOP-controlled Congress can summon the will necessary to withhold that funding. The Senate failed to pass a couple of bills targeting sanctuary cities because vote totals fell short of the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome a filibuster. That’s the same 60-vote threshold eliminated by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s invocation of the “nuclear option” when it suited Democrat purposes. It remains to be seen if traditionally spineless Republicans are willing to return the favor, especially those attuned to the leftist siren song of “comprehensive immigration reform.”

Nothing says reform better than reining in the rampant lawlessness sanctuary cities epitomize. Trump’s nomination of staunch anti-illegal immigration advocate Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) for U.S. attorney general is a great first step.

A suggestion for Sessions: In addition to exploring ways of limiting funding, the DOJ could lend its unambiguous support to citizens like the parents of Kate Steinle, murdered by seven-time felon Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez who had been deported five times. They have filed a suit against former San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, the city and federal officials for failing to do their respective jobs.

Successful litigation by sanctuary city crime victims, making officials liable for large cash awards, should be pursued with vigor all over the nation. There’s nothing quite like the prospect of facing personal financial calamity — for supporting lawlessness — to focus the progressive mind.

In 2016, millions of Americans voted to upend the status quo. Sanctuary cities are one of the worst aspects of that status quo.

American have lived with lawlessness orchestrated by leftist politicians long enough. Being a nation of laws is about having respect for all laws. Not just the ones leftists like.

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