The Limited Logic of Sanctuary Cities

What exactly is a sanctuary city that you hear so much about in the news these days? What do they do? Are they constitutional? Put on your thinking cap and possibly a seat belt for this wild ride of twisted logic and constitutional cherry picking.

There is no set definition of a sanctuary city. In fact, it could mean anything on a spectrum ranging from illegal immigrants receiving benefits from the local government to police forces not being able to look into the immigration status of a person that is arrested. In general, a sanctuary city is a jurisdiction, which has decided that their police cannot be compelled by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to enforce federal immigration law. For example, if an illegal immigrant were pulled over for speeding in San Francisco (the ultimate sanctuary city) the local authorities would quickly discover the fact that the person was in the country illegally, but would not report that fact to ICE. Whereas in a non-sanctuary city the person may be detained and ICE informed of the immigration status of that individual.

Over the years ICE has relied on local law enforcement to help them with their massive responsibility of policing illegal immigration. The federal government even provides some funding to local jurisdictions for this purpose. Enforcing immigration laws is a federal responsibility to be sure, but there are many federal laws that states must enforce that a particular local jurisdiction may be against. So, it is interesting to see the staunch federalists on the left suddenly appear over this particular issue and no other. Are you telling me if a city, say Anchorage, Alaska or Waco, Texas decided to stop enforcing the federal requirement for background checks on handgun sales that the federalist love would remain on the left?

I have a feeling a gun sanctuary city may draw a different response from illegal immigration sanctuary city supporters. Even if the local jurisdictions in Anchorage and Waco were convinced that the people buying guns in their city are not dangerous, at least not 99% of them. So why should they be coerced into applying the ridiculous federal law that is cumbersome and expensive? It actually hurts the feelings of the good citizens of those cities that are trying to buy a gun. Oh and by the way, isn’t this actually a stronger argument because there happens to be an amendment in the Bill of Rights that states, “the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”. I haven’t heard the amendment about keeping and caring for the citizens of other nations without permission to enter the country.

Liberals are the biggest states rights supporters you will meet when it comes to not enforcing federal laws on immigration and marijuana, but they run scared when the same constitutional logic of their argument is applied to guns, healthcare, or environmental protections. You see, whether you like a law or not, as long as the law is constitutional Article VI, Section 2 of the Constitution makes that law the supreme law of the land, period.

So while I personally think that federal laws banning recreational marijuana use should be repealed, I also believe that the current federal law should be followed. I apply this same logic to guns, environmental protections and immigration. The current laws must be followed, even if they should be changed. People that care deeply about these issues should work hard to change the laws that they think are wrong. However, simply subverting federal law, on choice issues, degrades the argument and frankly opens the door and sets a precedent for more shady law avoidance in the future on both sides. Both those on the far left and far right participate in this cherry picking on opposite issues, it just so happens that illegal immigrant sanctuary cities are the liberal issue of the day.

When it works into the agenda (guns, healthcare, gay marriage, abortion, and environmental protections) liberals are happy to shout about federal supremacy but when it does not, they unashamedly declare the illogical and completely opposite position of unchecked state sovereignty (immigration, recreational marijuana). It must be hard to be a far left liberal; no small mind could keep track of all of those contradictions. The New Third Way ahead…think critically and logically on big issues facing our country, not simply emotionally. Thanks for reading.

2 thoughts on “The Limited Logic of Sanctuary Cities

  1. Great topic and very good description of what’s going on in our Country these days. It is a confusing argument that you helped make sense of.


  2. Pingback: The Logical Twilight Zone: The Immigration “Debate” in America | New Third Way

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