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January 20, 2008

Question Of The Day

The tiny city of Mount Rainier is considering whether to declare itself a sanctuary for illegal immigrants, entering a regional and national debate over enforcement of immigration law.

If the City Council approves the proposal, the eclectic city of 9,000 in Prince George's County will join nearby Takoma Park in prohibiting police officers and city workers from checking the immigration status of residents or reporting those who lack legal residency documents to federal immigration authorities. Takoma Park has been a "sanctuary" city since 1985.

Mount Rainier City Council member Pedro Briones, who proposed the measure, said his intent is not to protect criminals but to allow all immigrants access to community services "so long as they are contributing residents of Mount Rainier and follow our city rules and regulations."

Briones added: "Until we have more effective national immigration policies, there's no reason why hardworking immigrants who may be undocumented should live in fear that their local police, code enforcement officer or sanitation worker is going to turn them over for possible deportation."

Interesting take on the sanctity of law. So my question is, why don't I have the right to declare a "sanctuary" for my tax dollars? What if I don't want them going to support communities which have opted to openly flout the laws of the United States of America? Why should I have to support cities who are undermining the decisions of my own elected officials?

Victor M. Kenworthy, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 85, which represents the city's police officers, said national immigration policies and laws should be reviewed. But he said local law enforcement should not be prohibited from cooperating with federal authorities.

"That's a big sticking point for us," he said. "You have a local entity coming up with some type of legislation that says it doesn't recognize federal law. It's not a question of whether the law is right or wrong. We have to respect the law whether we like it or not."

In fact, city policy bars the police department from enforcing federal immigration laws and from inquiring about a person's citizenship status. The proposed legislation would extend that sanctuary policy to any agent, officer, employee, contractor or subcontractor of the city.

"There are great residents in our town from various Latin American countries," said council member Jimmy Tarlau, who supports the Briones proposal. "We want to reach out to them. We want to indicate that they are welcome and we don't really care about their status."

If the measure passes, Mount Rainier will join more than 30 other cities nationwide that have sanctuary laws in place, including Seattle, San Francisco, Albuquerque, Austin, Los Angeles and Madison, Wis.

The sanctuary movement took hold in the 1980s, inspired by churches that were helping Central Americans who fled civil war at home. Berkeley, Calif., and St. Paul, Minn., were the first two cities to adopt sanctuary laws in response. Takoma Park reaffirmed its status as a sanctuary city in October after its police chief asked for and was denied more leeway to execute immigration warrants.

Federal authorities, however, have pledged to uphold immigration laws, conducting raids on businesses and arresting and deporting illegal residents whether they live in a sanctuary city or not.

Seems to me this "opt out" business is a two way street.

If these communities want to opt out of being part of America, let them opt out all the way: give up all federal subsidies and services and they are free to go their own way and do as they please.

Seattle, San Francisco, Albuquerque, Austin, Los Angeles and Madison are some fairly large cities. Come April 15th, my share of all that extra money should come in right handy, don't you think?

Posted by Cassandra at January 20, 2008 12:35 PM

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Comments

"Seems to me this "opt out" business is a two way street.

If these communities want to opt out of being part of America, let them opt out all the way: give up all federal subsidies and services and they are free to go their own way and do as they please.

Seattle, San Francisco, Albuquerque, Austin, Los Angeles and Madison are some fairly large cities. Come April 15th, my share of all that extra money should come in right handy, don't you think?"

Absotively, posilutely, preach on! Amen. And just to carry it to its logical conclusion, let's suggest that they relocate to... oh maybe the DelMarVa peninsula's outer edges. Then they can pretend to be an island nation left unto their own devices, and revenues.

No man is an island, but a rabid bunch of fuzzy logic Maroon's ought to have the opportunity.

Posted by: bthun at January 20, 2008 01:18 PM

Shut off all federal funding to the "sanctuary cities" and start federal prosecution of the political hacks pushing this crap.

Cut off services to illegals and toss them out of the country. Come here legally or get the hell out. Illegals are costing California well over a billion dollars a year. They are bankrupting our hospitals, flooding our schools, and using social services intended for legal residents and citizens.

I have no problem with limited legal immigration, but refuse to tolerate an invasion of illegals.

Posted by: Mark at January 20, 2008 01:25 PM

The choir is gathering. I detest sanctuary cities not just because of the 'illegals.'
For a long time, most agri towns in California
turned a blind eye because the workers who
were almost always illegal, allegedly
did the work Americans wouldn't do and moved on.

Many of them had two social security numbers, lived part of the year in Mexico and sent their money to Mexico all the while availing themselves of social services courtesy of the taxpayer.

They had a union (UFW), access to legal counsel,
a network of support within their community that
was better organized than the locals, to include the legal immigrants, who really disliked the
illegals.

No 'sanctuary city' was necessary.

Posted by: Cricket at January 20, 2008 01:43 PM

It seems appropriate to apply the same standard in the case of federal immigration law that we apply to highway/traffic laws. If a state does not permit right-turn on red, it is denied federal highway funds. The principle here is essentially identical.

Unfortunately, local politicians can be as craven as those who occupy seats in Congress......

Posted by: Robert A. Connolly at January 20, 2008 01:44 PM

"The choir is gathering. I detest sanctuary cities not just because of the 'illegals.' For a long time, most agri towns in California turned a blind eye because the workers who were almost always illegal, allegedly did the work Americans wouldn't do and moved on.

Many of them had two social security numbers, lived part of the year in Mexico and sent their money to Mexico all the while availing themselves of social services courtesy of the taxpayer."

It's not the work, it's the wage.

I worked on a truck farm around the Yuba country area as a kid in N. Ca. when I was not in class. Up a 4 a.m. working -oh how I hate smudge pots-, off to school at 7, back on the farm labor at 4 till 0-dark-thirty. I think that I know exactly what you are talking about, only it was not so bad -splitting hairs maybe- back about 40 years ago.

Talk about growth in government(taxpayer) funded subsidies.

Posted by: btBiboveralledhun at January 20, 2008 02:02 PM

My wife's house is is in Takoma Park. It was and is a quiet town, but it is no longer a safe town. It may be that giving sanctuary to lawbreakers is poor civic policy.

Posted by: levi from queens at January 20, 2008 03:03 PM

95% of Los Angeles murder warrants are for illegal aliens.

http://blogging.la/archives/2006/05/95_of_la_murder_warrants_are_f.phtml

Nationwide illegal aliens murder 12 people per day and kill another 13 in drunk driving incidents.

http://www.oldwardogs.us/2006/11/illegal_aliens_.html

That's over 9,000 per year. Where is the outrage?

Posted by: Mark at January 20, 2008 04:36 PM

I wonder what the people here who are enthusiastic about ordering local officials to enforce national immigration policy think they would have done during the time of the Federal fugitive slave laws -- laws that required local officials in the North to apprehend and return slaves who had managed to escape from the South.

Posted by: Fritz at January 20, 2008 05:29 PM

I think consistency demands that one can always flout the law.

And one always has to be ready to take the consequences. No free lunch. Otherwise the causal connection between action and consequence is blurred and nothing ever changes. If you believe in the rightness of your cause, stand up for it in the light of day, but be willing to take the consequences.

My bet is that these people are not willing to take the consequences.

The right answer (if they think they are right) is not to ignore the law, but to change the law.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 20, 2008 06:15 PM

Pssst! Fritz, you should have used the Jews escaping the Nazis metaphor.

Apples and oranges. If you need the distinction pointed out, someone will surely oblige.

Posted by: Mark at January 20, 2008 06:27 PM

Well, Mark -- I don't recall any Federal laws preventing people from helping Jews. There were Federal laws in the case I cited.

I don't see any reason why the Feds can't enforce Federal law themselves. Anything else sounds like an unfunded mandate, which conservatives usually oppose.

Posted by: Fritz at January 20, 2008 06:36 PM

I would personally like to help Mt. Ranier in their efforts. Where can I contribute to help any illegal living here in Ohio that wants to move to Mt. Ranier get there?

Posted by: Daveg at January 20, 2008 06:42 PM

During the Holocaust Jews were largely barred from immigration to the US. There were notable exceptions, but we did not accept an exodus.

Posted by: Mark at January 20, 2008 07:54 PM

Hmmm....

An unfunded mandate.

And the next time there is a kidnapping that crosses state lines, local law enforcement should not cooperate with that either. Unfunded mandates really suck.

Nice thinking, Fritz. Hope no one in your family ever is the victim of a federal crime.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 20, 2008 08:01 PM

Also hope my son never has the "opportunity" to assist you.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 20, 2008 08:01 PM

Fritz-- are you seriously suggesting that the cops should NOT arrest someone wanted for felony murder, because it's a felony crime?

You're on crack.

Posted by: Foxfier at January 20, 2008 08:23 PM

Fritz, you compare illegals in our country, who are here primarily for economic reasons, with slavery in the 19th century? Not quite the same.

If the people on the Mt. Rainier city council want to prevent their law enforcement officers from checking the immigration status of people during the course of their duty as law enforcement officers, fine and dandy. So the point Cass made and I for one agree with, is if the local government ties the hands of local law enforcement and is a willing accomplice to the breaking of federal immigration laws, why would anyone expect that federal tax monies be given to the jurisdictions who aid those breaking federal law, not policy, but law.

P.S. Law enforcement officers are sworn to uphold the law. People illegally in the country are breaking the law. They are not breaking policy, they are breaking the law. Maybe I'm just too simple to appreciate the nuanced logic, but I do not think it a grand idea to instruct law enforcement personnel to uphold certain laws of the land but not others...

Fuzzy logic indeed.

Posted by: bthun at January 20, 2008 08:24 PM

Oh yeah, in my haste Fritz I blew by your unfunded mandate comment. The federal government is not mandating that local law enforcement make raids on suspects involved in illegal immigration. Rather local government is mandating that local law enforcement turn a willful blind eye towards law breakers. Which is not IMO a real spiffy idea for the well-being of a lawful society.

Posted by: bthun at January 20, 2008 08:33 PM

The more interesting 19th century metaphor is to nullification. I had thought the issue was resolved in the negative by the very War between the States being mentioned here; but if not, I can think of a few Federal laws we could usefully nullify.

Posted by: Grim at January 20, 2008 11:01 PM

I suppose someone should add that Federal funding for state/local law enforcement efforts is a fairly large share of most budgets. Federal funds now pay for everything from local police officer overtime to body armor for the local cops.

That may be unhealthy in certain respects, in that it does tend to work against the independence of state and local police forces. It's hard to argue, however, that their cooperation in enforcing Federal laws is unfunded.

Posted by: Grim at January 21, 2008 12:02 AM

"The more interesting 19th century metaphor is to nullification."
Yes indeed, and a more fitting analogy in the context of a local government's declared illegal immigrant sanctuary which is in direct opposition to federal law. If that is, one were to want to argue state/local authority versus federal authority.
"I had thought the issue was resolved in the negative by the very War between the States being mentioned here; but if not, I can think of a few Federal laws we could usefully nullify."
Now that's a thought! =8^)

Posted by: bthun at January 21, 2008 10:49 AM

I absolutely agree that the Feds could tie their police grants to a requirement to enforce Federal laws (including immigration). Frankly the value of the Federal grant money can be questioned -- the increase in SWAT gear and military tactics that it has purchased may not correlate at all with increased safety.

Posted by: Fritz at January 21, 2008 12:37 PM

'unfunded mandates?'

What are you on?

All laws carry some liability for enforcement
for the people, meaning that if you don't support
the laws, you can opt out of the protection of
the law, right?

Posted by: Cricket at January 21, 2008 02:15 PM

Fritz makes an interesting observation comparing federal enforcement of the illegal immigration laws with that of the Federal Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 - a particularly odious example of why fundamental moral principles should never be open to political compromise. Unlike the slaves laws, however, one would expect that the modern debate over illegal immigration will not require four years of fraticide to sucessfully resolve.

There are few important diffences between the modern day illegal alien and the 19th Century slave, however, that strain the comparison. To begin with, the early American Slave was brought to these shores against his will and kept in bondage. A slave could no more pack his bags and travel back to the Ivory Coast than sprout wings. Secondly, as the importation of foreign slaves into the United States was prohibited after January 1, 1808, a good number of those persons targeted by the federal slave laws were American born, and thus citizens (or 3/5's of the same), albeit without the rights normally conferred upon citizens. It's hard to believe that many of those basic civil rights were still being denied to some citizens even in my lifetime.

The illegal immigrant has no "right" to be in this country. he was not imported into this nation against his will, nor is he kept in chains and denied transit to his home country. Not surprisingly, in many cases the illegal immigrant is afforded more civil rights here than in his home nation. Yay for our side.

Given these facts, I think it entirely appropriate that citizens should require that the immigration laws be enforced, and not the least bit morally equivalent to the enforcement of slave laws. nevertheless, I think that Frizt brings an interesting question.

Posted by: spd rdr at January 21, 2008 02:23 PM

The proposed legislation would extend that sanctuary policy to any agent, officer, employee, contractor or subcontractor of the city.

When I took my present job, I had to provide a copy of various documents (I chose my passport) to prove that I had a legal right to work in the United States. Doesn't forbidding a contractor or subcontractor of the city from checking the immigration status of their employees force them to violate State or Federal law in order to comply with a local ordinance? Is that lawful?

Posted by: RonF at January 21, 2008 03:07 PM

RonF:

Article VI, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution reads:

“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."

So,the answer to your question is "no." But here's the rub, local officials work for local government officials, and therefore will do whatever they are told at the risk of their paychecks. Local contractors are virtually hostage to the same purse strings. By requiring these persons not to do something mandated by federal law, the locality is placing the persons to on the horns of a dilema: which law to break? I'm guessing that they vote with their stomachs.

Posted by: spd rdr at January 21, 2008 03:27 PM

I think everyone can agree that the current system of having strict immigration laws on paper that are ignored in practice is broken. When laws don't work there are a few mechanisms that have been tried to fix the situation.

One is to proactively rewrite the law. This was tried last year with immigration. It didn't get far.

Another is to ignore the law with enough verve and determination that it finally gets repealed from embarassment of fatigue. This is what finally killed alcohol prohibition.

Yet another is to enforce the law thoroughly and hope that the legislature fixes the laws when the cost of the laws becomes clear. Considering that 1/2 of the current prison population is there for drug offenses, I would characterize this as the path the War on Some Drugs is taking. However, I'm not seeing a lot of movement for rational law rewriting, even with a phenominal cost.

If immigration laws are thoroughly enforced, there will be some pretty huge economic consequences. An optimist would suggest that those consequences will force the adoption of new laws that more closely match immigration with the needs of the American economy. I wish I were an optimist.

Posted by: Fritz at January 21, 2008 04:35 PM

Well, some people would say that the 'cost' of drug laws is balanced for many people by the perceived 'benefits'. Until that cost/benefit equation (real or perceived) changes, the law isn't likely to either.

Ironically, not enforcing the law may change the cost/benefit perception of allowing illegal immigrants to stay here, in the sense that many large municipalities are going broke paying for taxpayer-funded services for illegals. Get enough "Sanctuary cities" and the consequences of not enforcing the laws may start to have precisely the opposite effect of what these cities intend.

We'll see.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 21, 2008 06:42 PM

Fitz,
just to correct one of your invalid assumptions about federal grants to law enforcement... the vast majority of the federal grant money does not buy SWAT gear or teach military tactics. I know that's a popular belief on the left, but it is wrong. The majority of the federal grant money alloted to local law enforcement buys computers, equipment for patrol and investigative units and pays salaries for specialized positions such as gang investigation units, domestic violence units, sex crime units and other specializations. The grants also pay for specific training in various specialties as
well.

I do agree that federal funding should be cut off to cities and states which want to act as sanctuaries for criminals. Until the laws are rewritten, all of the illegal immigrants in our country are criminals and should be treated as such. The employers sould be penalized big time too, but I am not going into my answers for that problem here.

I usually lurk here, but I couldn't resist this.

Cassandra, keep up the good stuff, thank you.

Posted by: LEO Retired at January 21, 2008 07:02 PM

I can only hope they do declare sanctuary. Then they would see the reality behind the curtain of idealism.

Posted by: ZZMike at January 22, 2008 04:12 PM

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