Sanctuary Cities send wrong message

Reno Gazette Journal April 9, 2017

The federal government is considering withholding grant money from cities that do not cooperate in enforcing immigration laws. In response to this possible federal action, some cities and states, including Nevada, have attempted to pass legislation declaring themselves as sanctuary cities or states.

Let us start by understanding what “sanctuary city” really means. Once a city arrests a illegal immigrant, and the federal government becomes aware of it through a federal agency or through a report from the local law enforcement, the federal government wants the right to place the person on an “immigration hold”. This hold informs the local law enforcement agency to not release the illegal immigrant upon conclusion of the jail term (or upon posting bail) but to hand him/her over to federal authorities for possible deportation proceedings. When city or state laws prevent the local law enforcement from cooperating with the federal authorities and handing over an illegal immigrant who is placed on immigration hold, the city is providing “sanctuary” to those persons. It is easy for facts to be lost in the discussion, but it is important to note that the federal government is not asking law enforcement to randomly stop people in the streets and check for their legal status.

In response to this reasonable attempt to enforce existing laws by the federal government, some cities like San Francisco and states like California are trying to declare themselves to be sanctuaries. In Nevada, State Senator Yvonna Cancela (D-Las Vegas) proposed a bill declaring Nevada a sanctuary state. These sanctuaries are publicly announcing that if an illegal alien commits a crime and gets arrested, they will not notify DHS for possible deportation proceedings.

Law enforcement agencies have generally cooperated with each other on a regular basis. Such cooperation is critical for our country. States, cities and individuals do not have the luxury of picking and choosing laws they want to comply with. In not cooperating with the federal government, sanctuary cities and states are opening a can of worms and inviting criminals to seek refuge in their quarters. Using this logic, can the federal government refuse FBI help to track down someone who burned down an abortion clinic because Jeff Sessions is opposed to abortion? What if California doesn’t agree on the death penalty and refuses to extradite a serial murderer to Nevada because we have the death penalty?

One final point: The message we send matters. It determines people’s actions. Since President Trump was inaugurated in January, Customs and Border Patrol has reported a dramatic drop in border crossings. For the month of February, illegal border crossings dropped by about half. This breaks a trend that has lasted close to two decades where illegal border crossings have gone up every year. For the month of March, illegal crossings dropped by a whopping 79% to the lowest level in at least 17 years. President Trump’s tough talk on immigration has clearly brought down the illegal border crossings. In creating sanctuaries, cities and states are doing the exact opposite and hanging a welcome sign to illegal immigrants. These cities and states are irresponsible and reckless and the federal government is right to withhold funding using all legal means to discourage such “sanctuaries”.  And the simple fact is that it is the LAW – – and shouldn’t we expect our governing bodies to uphold the laws?