Cities in 33 states defy immigration law with sanctuary policies
The Other Side of Immigration Reform
While the fate of immigration reform in Congress remains uncertain, the other side of reform is the so-called sanctuary policies now in place in 103 cities, towns and counties in 33 states and the District of Columbia.
The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) took a close look at these policies in a comprehensive study entitled “Sanctuary Policies Across the U.S.” The study concludes that “non-enforcement” and “outright defiance” of immigration law, which is expressly prohibited by federal law, is a “dangerous trend” that is sweeping the country.
The study includes a list of sanctuary policies in the 33 states by jurisdiction. In Arizona, such policies have been adopted in Phoenix, Tucson, Mesa, Chandler, and San Luis.
What are sanctuary policies? FAIR provides a definition: They bar state or local officials, including law enforcement officials, from asking persons about their immigration status, reporting them to federal immigration authorities, or otherwise cooperating with or assisting federal immigration authorities.
Here are highlights of the FAIR study:
- The overwhelming majority of sanctuary policies cited in this study either prohibit state or local officials from inquiring, acting on, or reporting an individual’s immigration status, even when there is reasonable suspicion that federal immigration laws are being violated.
- Still other policies represent more aggressive efforts to shield illegal aliens, such as anti-detainer policies that restrict local and state police from cooperating with federal authorities seeking to remove aliens who have been arrested and charged with other crimes.
- While some of the state and local sanctuary policies noted were enacted ten or more years ago, the majority have occurred since President Obama took office in 2009, and almost half of the policies have been put in place in just the past two years.
- State and local jurisdictions often justify their sanctuary policies by claiming that illegal aliens will be more likely to report crimes to police without fear of deportation.
- Yet, the cost of illegal immigration in terms of education, health care, crime committed by illegal aliens themselves, and overall declines in a community’s quality of life are far greater than any benefit that may accrue from illegal aliens sharing information with police. And, in reality, all police have the discretion to grant immunity to crimes witnesses — regardless of their immigration status — and virtually all do.
- By accommodating those who violate our immigration law, sanctuary policies only serve to encourage others to follow the same path. A growing illegal alien population lowers wages and work standards at the low end of the job market, adds to overcrowded housing, creates an underground economy that undermines the tax base, and has other negative consequences.
- The most compelling argument for ending state and local sanctuary policies is that they undermine federal anti-terrorism efforts. It is a sad fact of life since September 11, 2001 that we must be more vigilant regarding the activities of foreigners in our midst. The underground society of illegal aliens, with street sales of fake identity documents, creates a nurturing environment for terrorists.
The national patchwork of sanctuary policies has a clear aim – prevent state and local law enforcement from assisting understaffed federal authorities.
As pointed out by the FAIR study, the 20,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employees of the federal government
cannot possibly handle the challenges created by 11 million illegals living in the United States. They need help from state and local authorities to enforce law. Sanctuary policies slam the door.
During the course of his career, Walker has worked in Chicago, Washington DC, New York City, and Phoenix. He served as a reporter in Chicago, a press secretary and speechwriter in Washington, and in numerous positions in New York in corporate and financial services communications.
Walker is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.