“The first duty of the Government is to afford protection to its citizens.” So said Representative John Farnsworth during Congressional debate in 1867. Maryland and the city of Rockville woefully failed to fulfill this duty with regard to the 14-year-old Rockville High School student whom, it is alleged, was recently raped by two illegal aliens. It’s mind-boggling that the response from the Maryland General Assembly and the Rockville City Council has been to consider “sanctuary city” legislation that shelters illegal aliens from federal immigration authorities.
The standard argument offered in support of “sanctuary” policies is that state and local law enforcement agencies must have the trust of illegal aliens if they want them to report crime. Supposedly, they can only gain this trust if illegal aliens believe that local police officers won’t report them to federal immigration authorities. In essence, local law enforcement officials are saying that they want the power to bargain immigration enforcement away in order to increase successful state prosecutions. It’s the classic “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” argument that underlies plea bargains.
But here’s where the argument starts to unravel: while local police and state prosecutors have the authority to strike plea bargains, they don’t have any authority to offer witnesses or informants immunity from prosecution on federal immigration charges. So in many jurisdictions, the forces of law and order – local police, local prosecutors, and local courts – conspire to help illegal aliens violate federal immigration law, all in the name of better relations between immigrant communities and the police. (And it’s the only area of law where policing agencies advocate the interests of violators who say they’d prefer less enforcement. You never hear cops and DA’s arguing that burglars would be more willing to drop a dime on drug dealers and murderers if we just ignored more home invasions.)
Of course, the whole concept is an intellectual house of cards that comes crashing down – usually to the detriment of law abiding Americans – when the slightest breeze of logic blows in. It’s absurd to claim that state and local jurisdictions must overlook immigration violations to ensure the cooperation of illegal alien witnesses. Illegal aliens in the United States are regularly unafraid to publicly announce their lack of status, appear on television news programs, protest in the streets, and march into state and local legislative bodies to advocate “sanctuary” policies. They clearly have no fear of local police.
In addition, the federal government maintains special programs that give lawful immigration status to illegal alien witnesses, informants and victims. Law enforcement agencies can obtain S visas for illegal aliens who cooperate with investigators and provide information or testimony that aids in arrests or prosecutions. The U and T visas are available to the victims of crime and human trafficking. There are also special provisions of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) which allow victims of domestic abuse to obtain legal immigration status. The “sanctuary” offered by state and local jurisdictions doesn’t “protect” illegal aliens from anything. Federal officials can still arrest and deport them. But when state and local authorities work with the federal government, illegal alien victims, witnesses, and informants gain lawful status in exchange for their testimony.
So, what do “sanctuary city” policies accomplish? A dangerous breakdown in collaborative federalism. By trivializing the violation of immigration laws, legitimating disrespect for federal authority, and encouraging general lawlessness, they simply invite more criminal behavior. Every crime committed by an illegal alien is, by definition, a preventable crime. The supporters of the sanctuary movement are all too willing to sacrifice the safety and well-being of law-abiding citizens and school girls on the altar of political correctness.