[OP-ED]: The Trump administration is launching a silly war on mythical sanctuary cities
I savored the recent news that Immigration and Customs Enforcement plans to send thousands of immigration agents to so-called “sanctuary cities” to round up illegal immigrants.
With apologies to “Apocalypse Now,” I love the smell of vindication in the morning.
The Trump administration is planning to target a host of cities for additional scrutiny by allocating more agents and resources to those locales.
No problem there. While I vehemently oppose conservative politicians roping local and state cops into the enforcement of federal immigration law, this isn’t that. These are federal agents enforcing federal statutes. That’s their job.
ICE’s Acting Director Thomas Homan -- who has called the whole concept of sanctuary cities “ludicrous” -- doesn’t seem all that interested in politics.
Instead, what Homan specializes in is common sense. He made this clear during a recent interview with the Washington Examiner.
“What I want to get to is a clear understanding from everybody, from the congressmen to the politicians to law enforcement to those who enter the country illegally, that ICE is open for business,” he said. “We’re going to enforce the laws on the books without apology. ... It’s not OK to violate the laws of this country anymore. You’re going to be held accountable.”
I’d feel better if Homan were just as committed to holding accountable a group of people who can fight back with lawyers, accountants and public relations specialists: employers of illegal immigrants. These are “the untouchables.”
Still, he is right to push the message that anyone in the country illegally should worry about being deported. This includes those who live in so-called sanctuary cities.
“In the America I grew up in, cities didn’t shield people who violated the law,” he said in the interview.
Homan can rest easy. Despite what you hear in conservative media, cities don’t shield people from ICE. And -- ironically -- this recent crackdown proves it once and for all.
Which is what brought about my sense of vindication.
For the last couple of years -- ever since the tragic killing of 32-year-old Kate Steinle by an illegal immigrant in San Francisco in July 2015 sparked a national outcry about sanctuary cities -- I’ve argued with boneheaded Republicans who insisted that Democratic officials had built an impenetrable fortress to protect the undocumented.
This is nonsense. I’ve said all along that, while the federal government can tell cities what to do, the opposite is not true. Federal authorities can go where they please, and there is no place in the United States where the undocumented can avoid deportation. I’ve also maintained that the whole idea of sanctuary cities is a fraud concocted by Democratic officials at the local level who like to pretend they’re more powerful than they really are, and that Republicans have been gullible enough to fall for the distraction.
Now, thanks to the decision by the Trump administration to essentially invade sanctuary cities -- Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia etc. -- I’ve been proved right. And the Republicans have been shown to be wrong. The fortress is made of cotton candy.
Democrats can’t afford to be smug though. The crackdown also had the effect of exposing their scheme as phony. They’re going to have to find another way to trick pro-immigrant groups into thinking that the Democratic Party is in their corner.
Meanwhile, rather than admit they were wrong, Republicans have scrambled to come up with another definition of a “sanctuary city.” Now they broadly apply the title to any locality that “limits cooperation” with federal immigration authorities.
Wait just a minute. In most places, local and state cops are under no legal obligation to be at the beck and call of their federal brethren. This is especially true if running errands for Uncle Sam will make more difficult the job they are sworn to do: protecting and serving their communities.
Texas is an exception. It is now the only state in the country that has established criminal and civil penalties for local government entities and law enforcement that don’t comply with immigration laws and detention requests from the federal government. But that only reaffirms the point that -- in the other 49 states -- there is no such requirement. Otherwise, the Lone Star State would not have needed to pass this kind of law.
Conservatives are always bragging about how they support their local law enforcement officers. By opposing the Trump administration’s silly war on mythical sanctuary cities, they’d be off to a fine start.