Should US states be allowed to become ‘sanctuary states’?
- A ‘sanctuary’ state or city, as defined by the Center of Immigration Studies, are jurisdictions that have adopted “laws, ordinances, regulations, resolutions, policies, or other practices that obstruct immigration enforcement and shield criminals from ICE.”
- As recorded in March 2021, there are 11 US states that will not comply with federal immigration enforcement personnel to detain or deport undocumented migrants. They are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.
- US Customs & Border Protection reported in October 2022 that the number of illegally-crossing migrants over the US border topped 2.76 million for the fiscal year, breaking the previous annual record.
- An April 2022 Gallup poll found that 41% of those surveyed were worried “a great deal” about illegal immigration, with another 19% worried “a fair amount.” The findings note that since 2006, the percentage of Democrats reporting they are 'not at all concerned' had surged “to a new high of 44%” in 2022. Worry among Republicans, however, has risen since 2001, reaching a new high of 68%.
Sanctuary states allow individuals without proper documentation to come out of the shadows and access essential human services that help to keep them healthy—a basic human right. This is not only good for individuals but has a net effect on the larger society in that a healthier population does not spread disease as quickly. Further, sanctuary states, including the cities therein, help fight the trend of undocumented people avoiding preventative care and opting for the emergency room as a last resort, which is ultimately more expensive for society. These districts also help to keep illegal and dangerous labor practices at bay. Unfortunately, there are employers out there who would abuse the hardworking nature of immigrants, potentially putting them in hazardous conditions they might be unwilling to report out of fear of deportation.
Sanctuary states are actually safer because immigrant populations are more willing to work with law enforcement due to reduced fear of deportation. UCSD professor, Tom K. Wong, has shown through studies that fewer crimes are committed in sanctuary cities than in those where undocumented individuals are pursued aggressively.
Finally, the fact that those who have pushed for local state rule and have pushed state legislatures to pass controversial bills, such as Florida's 'parental rights' bill and Texas's abortion ban, are suddenly opposed to sanctuary jurisdictions is thick with irony. States like Texas and Florida have seemingly become virtual sanctuary states for those wanting to flood the streets with weapons and restrict female and LGTBTQ+ rights. If the populations of these states are allowed their own extremist policies, certainly, cities that choose to protect the health and dignity of a small number of residents should be left alone.
The Constitution's 10th Amendment states, 'The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.' This is federalism. While the 10th Amendment has often been obliterated over the years, immigration is the federal government's constitutional responsibility.
When states, due to federal inaction on illegal immigration, passed laws as Arizona did in 2010 that would aid in their efforts to deal with the flood of illegal immigration, the Obama administration stepped in, saying they had no authority to do so. Sanctuary laws, either at the state or city level, disregard federal law. Those laws specifically demand no cooperation with federal authorities when dealing with illegal immigrants within their cities or states. This is a recipe for anarchy. States should not and do not have the right to pick and choose which federal laws to ignore. If that were the case, counties, cities, towns, and even citizens should have the same ability to ignore state laws as they see fit.
As several cities, like Chicago, New York, and DC—none of whom are even remotely near the border and do not face the crisis overwhelming America's border cities and states—declaring their jurisdictions as a 'sanctuary' is nothing more than virtue signaling. When real illegal immigrants show up, they panic, complain, and in increasing cases, plead with the federal government for help. They cannot back up their pious and sanctimonious posturing with real supportive action or concern because open border policies are ultimately unsupportable and harm everyone involved; they are not compassionate. No jurisdiction should be allowed to prioritize the comfort of illegal migrants over the wellness and safety of their own citizens in defiance of federal law.
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