Why Trump’s sanctuary cities plan is a step in the right direction
-By Preetam Kaushik
Illegal immigration is one area where successive administrations (both Republican and Democrat) have let the American people down. The Congress too has to shoulder part of the blame for this level of policy paralysis over decades.
One of the worst examples of the impasse surrounding illegal immigration is the continued existence of the so-called sanctuary cities. What started out as a moral stance taken by Churches in the 1980s to support Central Americans fleeing violence in their homelands has been wholly appropriated by the Democrats to fuel their radical left politics in recent years.
Now, President Trump has floated a plan that, on paper, should work to the benefit of all parties concerned – send all the thousands of illegal immigrants currently under detention to sanctuary cities. It should be a win-win for everyone right?
The Federal agencies can free up precious resources that can be better used to secure our borders. The Dems in these sanctuary cities get a chance to walk the talk and ensure that families and immigrants are treated “humanely.” But as with anything that is laced by progressive, radical left politics of the Democrats these days, things are anything but simple.
The menace posed by sanctuary cities in America
There is no strict definition for what a sanctuary city should be in the US system of politics or governance. Any city, county, or municipality can be considered a sanctuary city based on its local laws and established customs. Even some states like California have passed laws that favor the policies of sanctuary cities.
By and large, the vast majority of sanctuary cities are located across the West and East Coast regions of the United States, with a fair few located in the Great Plains, in states like Iowa, Colorado, and Kansas.
These cities all have one thing in common– they have policies, either de facto or de jure, that discourage local law enforcement from helping Federal immigration agencies do their job. This means that local police in these cities do not report illegal immigrants to the Feds, nor do they offer any assistance in carrying out raids.
Former Immigration Customs Enforcement Director Tom Homan called these cities the biggest obstacle to Federal agencies trying to do their jobs. And by some estimates, there are now at least 500 of these cities in the US. The biggest of these are probably San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, and Los Angeles.
Why Trump is considering this plan
Immigration is a matter handled by the Federal government. Sanctuary cities are actively obstructing the federal agencies from carrying out their legal obligations. President Trump had vowed during the campaign trail that he would actively discourage sanctuary cities by restricting federal funding to those that obstruct the duties of agencies like ICE.
True to his word, the President passed Executive Order 13768 in January 2017, restricting federal funding to any sanctuary city. But that order has been struck down by the courts as unconstitutional, proving a severe setback to the administration efforts to clamp down on immigration.
At least 33 states have since then passed laws forcing local municipalities to provide assistance to Immigration officials. But most of these states, like Florida, Georgia, and Arizona are GOP dominated and do not actually have any sanctuary cities.
Despite the best efforts of the administration and border security agencies, the tide of migrants is increasing with each passing day. The figures since October 2018 show that they have doubled in the span of one year. And even worse, these migrants are increasingly bringing their families and children along, often to improve their chances of gaining access to the US.
An estimated 76,000 crossed into the US in February 2019 alone, highlighting a growing crisis. The border agencies simply do not have adequate legally-mandated facilities to keep these migrants, especially those with families and children. ICE has at least 50,000 of them in custody, and cannot take any more in, which is why this latest plan might actually be for the best.
What the Democrats are saying and why
If we had to summarize the Dems response to President Trump’s initial idea, it could be done in one word – predictable. They have a standard response to anything that comes out of the White House these days – shrill and vociferous opposition. And their response to the Trump plan to send immigrants to their sanctuary cities was taken from this same playbook.
Nancy Pelosi was one of the loudest critics, calling the plan an attempt at “political vendetta. This should come as a surprise, since her constituency is California’s 12th Congressional District, covering four-fifths of San Francisco city. In case you didn’t know, The Golden City has declared itself a sanctuary city way back in 1989, and has passed laws as recently as 2013 to reinforce this status.
Now, if your city has an explicit policy welcoming illegal immigrants, why would you say no to a plan that proposes to send them to you? Even worse, why would you call it a “political vendetta?” A vendetta or revenge is where someone does something to harm you, something against your interests. Unless the Democrats like Pelosi don’t actually believe in what they preach, more immigrants should make them happy.
This lays bare the doublespeak inherent in every Democrat policy. They like taking the moral high ground on all matters under the sun, but when the time comes to roll your sleeves up to deal with harsh realities, they find shallow excuses. And what Trump is doing through this plan is exposing the Dems for what they are – a party that is all talk and no action, which is in stark contrast to what this President and his administration are all about.
There is public support for the plan
A recent poll by Monmouth University showed that a small majority of Americans support President Trump’s plans to send immigrants to sanctuary cities, by 46% vs 43%. Nearly half the Republicans and independents were against the idea (45% and 48%), which is not really surprising since letting foreigners loose in the US is not something most conservatives or rational folk would be too keen on.
But what is quite illuminating is the level of support for the policy from supporters of the Democrat party. Nearly 70% were against this plan, which puts them squarely at odds with their Congressional leadership which has claimed for years that they support sanctuary policies. There is a clear lack of connection between the Democrats and their supporters of key issues, which would not bode well for the upcoming elections.
Conclusion – Will he, should he, can he?
Regardless of whether they are headed to Democrat cities or not, unleashing tens of thousands of illegal immigrants into American soil is never a good idea for the long term. Local law enforcement would be overwhelmed, and nobody would be able to control the movement of so many people.
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There are also practical and logistical concerns regarding the transportation of tens of thousands of people to cities that are far away from the southern border. Lawsuits are inevitable against the order as well. This is why most immigration and customs officials rejected the plan after it was initially floated by the President.
But by bringing it up again to the forefront, Trump is actually achieving several things. For one, he is scoring heavily against the duplicitous stance of Democrats in the Congress. Two, he is once again highlighting the desperate crisis at our Southern border, and the need for that wall.
Above all, he is also putting into stark relief the need for urgent revamp in the immigration laws of this country. The existing provisions are shackling the abilities of agencies like ICE and Border Patrol to deal with the influx of immigrant families. It is more a question of laws with more teeth, rather than more manpower or funding.
Trump is using this plan to throw down a gauntlet to the Congress – the time is now to reform immigration laws. Now the ball is in the court of the Senators and Congressmen. Let’s see how (if) they will respond.