Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Sanctuary Cities

We all need sanctuary from time-to-time; the problem is trying to find it. Well, illegal aliens don’t have difficulty finding sanctuary; all they have to do is look on a map. That's because many cities across the country call themselves a "sanctuary city," one of dozens across the United States. In these cities illegal immigrants need not worry about a ‘knock on the door at night’, or even during the day, because they have policies directing local police and other officials to stay out of immigration matters.

Since ‘we’, you and I not Congress, defeated the amnesty-laden comprehensive immigration deal Congress and the President wanted, supporters of illegal immigrants have found a way to get around public opinion. Local police forces are on the battle front on illegal immigration because they often see criminals who came from south of the border to make “a better life for themselves” but who have taken the easier way through crime rather than “taking jobs American’s won’t do”. In “sanctuary cities’, police have been told to stay out of immigration matters and don’t ask criminals “Are you in this country legally?”

Supporters of sanctuary cities use the lame excuse that "If police are seen as immigration enforcers, members of immigrant communities will simply be afraid to talk to them". David Harris, a law professor at the University of Toledo in Ohio and author of "Good Cops," a book on preventive policing says "When that kind of fear is rampant in the community, the predators know this right away." He cites Austin, Texas, which experienced a lot of violence against illegal immigrants carrying large amounts of cash. His solution which unfortunately has been adopted in many cities: offer identification cards for immigrants to open bank accounts and get the word out that police weren't interested in immigration status. No doubt the same reasoning could be applied to other criminals; after all any criminal would be reluctant to go to the police for any reason lest they be caught by the ‘long arm of the law’.

Oakland and San Francisco have led the way in providing sanctuary to illegal border-crossers. These cities and Baltimore have their own version of “don’t ask don’t tell” so illegal immigrants can safely clog up hospital emergency rooms without worry about deportation and the pregnant ones can safely give birth to anchor babies who will assure them of permanent residency and, eventually, citizenship.

Representative Ginny Brown-Waite (R of Florida) introduced a bill to withhold government funds from sanctuary cities. The Congresswoman said, “Imagine that … one of the … 9/11 hijackers, who were in the country illegally, had a city they could reside in to plot terrorist attacks with no fear of ever being checked or deported.” She may well have also cited a recent case in New Jersey where an illegal immigrant allegedly led an attack that killed three people. The suspect was out on bail for other indictments before the killings despite his immigration status; this information didn’t reach federal immigration officials because Newark is a sanctuary city.

For its part, federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says that while sanctuary policies won't stop its agents from enforcing immigration law in a sanctuary city, it does "make it harder." These cities could be depriving themselves of valuable ICE assistance, such as Operation Community Shield, an anti-gang effort that has used immigration enforcement to arrest more than 6,000 gang members.

The Justice Department has found a technological way to assist police in immigration enforcement. In 2001, the department began adding immigration warrants into a national database once reserved for wanted felons. During any routine stop, police may query the database, except of course in sanctuary cities.

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