In Defense of Sanctuary Cities
There’s alot of talk about sanctuary cities lately, and I figure I’d share some thoughts. Basically a sanctuary city is a place that doesn’t put municipal resources into immigration offenses, which are federal crimes. The city may enact laws, or they may just be a defacto city by their actions and policies.
My defense of a sanctuary city is not because I am pro-illegal immigration. It’s because I’m pro-police. I grew up on the South Side of Chicago in a neighborhood called Garfield Ridge. The city required that city workers live within city limits, so it seemed that many of them congregated to my neighborhood. There was at least one cop on every block, if not more. These weren’t just cops. They were our neighbors, friends, parents, coaches, scout leaders, and more. They were an integral part of our community. It’s because of my respect and admiration for the police that I support sanctuary cities.
Like I said, a sanctuary city in essence is a city that won’t expend resources towards immigration violations. It doesn’t mean that they won’t enforce criminal laws broken by illegal immigrants, they just won’t enforce immigration laws. It’s not like a cop in LA will say, ‘Hey, that dude’s wanted for murder, but I can’t arrest him because he’s an illegal immigrant’. No, he or she is still going to bust them, put them in jail, and take them to court. What they aren’t going to do is shake down people in the communities that they work in to see if someone is an illegal immigrant. And honestly, I don’t blame them. Especially when there is already a federal agency available to deal with this issue.
Is it any surprise that it’s the big cities that are sanctuary cities? The cops in those cities have enough to deal with as is, let alone take on a gargantuan task of enforcing immigration law. Those cities are taxed enough financially that putting resources into enforcing federal offenses is not possible. There’s a long list of federal crimes, and the police don’t get deeply involved in many of them. Federal crimes consist of things such as tax evasion, aircraft hijacking, mail fraud, civil rights, insurance fraud, etc. There are agencies to deal with federal crimes such the ATF, IRS, DEA, INS, and other acronyms. While the INS can come in and break down doors looking for illegals and then leave town, the local police can’t. They need to work in these communities every day, 24 hours a day. The cops can’t do it alone. They need informants, neighborhood cooperation, liaisons, etc. to do their job effectively. I can’t think of a better way to destroy that other than by making the police harass people who are just minding their own business and not causing trouble. They can’t tell who is here legally or illegally by appearance, so inevitably they will harass American citizens in the process. And even with the best of intentions and caution, the law of averages will dictate that some encounters will go bad. These are things that will turn a community against you. Ask a seasoned cop what it’s like to work in that kind of community. It’s no fun when you’re outnumbered and even the good people are against you. Even the roughest of communities love it when the cops take out the bad guys, but messing with the good people is an effective way to go from hero to villain. A cop’s job is hard enough as it is, no need to add an extra job that makes their primary job more difficult or more dangerous. Not only do I want every cop to come home to their family after work safe, I also want them to come home sane.
But why would they want more to come to their city? Simple, it’s money. They use public transportation, rec centers, etc. that generate revenue for the city. Illegal immigrants pay city taxes that can’t be skirted the way federal taxes can. They pay sales tax, tax on cars, tax on booze, tax on property and so on, while being limited in the benefits they receive due to their non-citizen status. They can’t form voting blocs, and their main benefit is education and emergency room visits. Education is usually paid for by property taxes, so they are either paying or helping someone pay their property tax. So, that leaves emergency room visits as their main benefit. In the meantime, they are paying local taxes and boosting economies by being consumers and starting businesses. But aren’t they inviting more crime? Possibly, but in my experience, most illegal immigrants keep their head down and keep clean. While a white college student walking home drunk will get a ticket and possibly be kept in jail to sober up to go home, an illegal immigrant would get arrested and deported which would result in a greater consequence. Because of this, most avoid even minor violations. Sure, there are gangs and criminals, and I know that full well from growing up in Chicago. However, the percentage of that community that commit crimes is really no different than many others. Of course, undocumented immigrants will be a higher percentage of federal crime because immigration violation is a federal crime.
Obviously, there’s an immigration issue in America. There’s 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country to prove that. However, adding additional burdens to the local police isn’t going to help. It may even harm in that it will add additional work to already over stressed municipalities. Maybe the sheriff’s department of a county with a population of 1000 can do it, but certainly not in LA where you have less than 10,000 cops for a city of almost 4 million.