May 16–The sanctuary cities movement has backfired, predictably, on its advocates. No matter how righteous the cause, such as declaring one’s city a safe zone for undocumented migrants, governments don’t have the legal luxury of deciding when they’ll enforce or defy the laws of a superior jurisdiction.
The law is not a smorgasbord. When people choose which laws to obey, the result is anarchy. When cities declare that they will not assist federal authorities, even in cases where local police have custody of dangerous criminal undocumented immigrants, the dangers to all citizens grow.
The most gruesome example was the 2015 killing in San Francisco of Kathryn Steinle by an undocumented immigrant with a history of crimes and prior deportations. He had been in local police custody only weeks before but had been released despite a detainer request by federal authorities.
San Francisco is one of more than 500 local governments that have declared themselves as sanctuary jurisdictions, defying what they assert is an unfair federal immigration policy. They may well be right, but the proper way to change that policy is to elect federal lawmakers to change the law, including comprehensive immigration reform.
Technically, sanctuary cities are not violating federal law; they are simply refusing to honor federal detainer requests when undocumented immigrants come into local police custody. But the philosophy can be infectious. In Illinois, at least four county governments have decided they don’t like the gun-control laws passed by the state Legislature. They’ve declared themselves as gun-rights sanctuary counties where state laws will not be enforced.
“We want to make a statement. We don’t want our Second Amendment rights to be stripped away from us,” David Campbell, vice chairman of the Effingham County Board, told CNN. “If we protect immigrants with sanctuary cities, why not use similar laws to protect our rights to own a gun?” Three other counties have adopted Effingham’s sanctuary resolution, and dozens of others are considering it.
The movement began after the Illinois Legislature passed a gun-control law that set 21 as the minimum age for purchasing assault weapons, imposed a 72-hour waiting period for purchases and banned the sale, manufacture or possession of bump stocks. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed it, but conservative rural counties decided they still needed to make a point with their sanctuary decrees.
The nation has been down this path before, always with disastrous results. Perhaps most notable in modern times were the refusal of authorities in Alabama and Arkansas to abide by federal school-desegregation laws. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Dwight Eisenhower had to mobilize troops to enforce desegregation statutes.
We probably haven’t heard the last of the gun-sanctuary movement, and chances are it’ll be invoked in some other provocative way. Beware the law of unintended consequences.
This article provided by NewsEdge.