Call it a sanctuary city or city of refuge, the goal is still the same; leave illegal aliens alone. In recent years cities throughout the nation have adopted sanctuary ordinances, declaring their cities safe-havens for these criminals (Yes, illegal immigration is still a Federal crime despite Obama’s efforts). With the issue of illegal immigration at the forefront of the American consciousness, more cities are considering taking this action. The action of declaring a safe-zone for illegal aliens is strictly prohibited by law. Yet, they have gone unchallenged by our government, elected leaders, and worst of all us.
Since I live in California and know California law, this article will examine the legal and social aspects of sanctuary cities in California. Though all states are covered by the blanket of Federal law, I suggest investigating your state’s laws concerning illegal immigration and cooperation with Federal agencies. Once armed with that knowledge, start contacting your elected representatives and demand compliance with the law!
So what does it mean to be a sanctuary city? Let’s use some random city on the Left Coast…hmm, what about San Francisco? The bay area is probably the most liberal locale in the nation. (Not to say there aren’t good folks there too, I know a few living there) San Francisco has been a “City of Refuge” since 1989. I think the best description of a sanctuary policy was given by San Francisco’s Mayor, Gavin Newsom. In 2008 Mayor Newsom and Supervisor Tom Ammiano launched a campaign to renew awareness of the sanctuary policy on “undocumented residents.” Here is what Mayor Newsom said;
“The City’s public awareness campaign is a reminder that City employees will not report individuals or their immigration status to federal immigration agents. San Francisco residents should feel safe when they visit a public health clinic, enroll their children in school, report a crime to the Police Department or seek out other City services.” (City and County of San Francisco website) You may have missed the “we will bend over backwards, kiss your (insert adult language), and pay you for it” part…it’s in the fine print.
Imagine that the next Mohammed Atta (ringleader to the 9/11 hijackings) is currently living in San Francisco and there illegally. According to what Newsom is saying above, even if SFPD knows this person is illegal, an officer is PROHIBITED from reporting that person. I invite you to read the ordinance, though you may find yourself in a maze of legalese, which contradicts itself. The message in it is pretty clear though, the city and its employees cannot, will not, may not, shall not assist ICE or any other immigration agency. There are some provisos for notifying those agencies, but in practice, affirmed by Newsom’s statement, San Francisco provides illegal aliens a safe-zone. It’s like a base runner stealing for home and the catcher is in on it. Heck, the catcher even gave the runner the signal to come on in!
Undoubtedly, some libby is out there screaming that the majority of illegal immigrants are Latinos, not Middle Eastern terrorists. They will then give the “they are here to make an honest living” argument. That may be true, but there are a significant portion of criminals hiding among them. And sanctuary cities provide an environment suited to their needs. Let’s look at a couple of examples to illustrate my point.
How about the life and times of Edwin Ramos? This El Salvadoran illegal alien was part of a violent street gang. Although he had committed two felonies while a juvenile, San Francisco’s sanctuary policy protected him from being reported to immigration authorities. Apparently, because a 48-year-old man and his two sons prevented Ramos from making a turn in his vehicle, they were shot and killed.
Enrique Sosa Alvarez lived under the security blanked provided by the city of San Jose, CA (not far from SF). Alvarez was described by neighbors a being a brutish, girlfriend beating, no-job-having thug. This “undocumented resident” broke into a San Jose, CA, home and kidnapped a 9-year-old girl. For two days Alvarez raped and tortured this poor girl before letting her go in Palo Alto, CA. San Jose’s Mayor recently denied San Jose’s sanctuary status. However, the city has a policy of refusing assistance to immigration authorities and will not report immigration status. Further, they refused to assist the Department of Justice in investigating people suspected of terrorist ties in the wake of 9/11. Sounds like sanctuary to me.
I hold all these sanctuary cities complicit in these crimes. It is the knowledge that they live in a safe-zone that keeps illegal aliens pouring in. I also believe Washington politicians are to blame because of lax immigration policies and amnesty programs, but that’s an argument for another day.
In case people are missing the point about this, let me be perfectly clear. These cities are granting de facto amnesty, ergo citizenship, to people who have not been processed and vetted. It is the responsibility of the Federal government to ensure immigrants meet our qualifications and standards. And do not mistake me for being anti-immigrant. I celebrate the diversity we gain when immigration is accomplished in the proper manner. However, when these rogue “city-states” act autonomously, they place all of us in danger by circumventing laws meant to protect ALL citizens of the United States.
What these cities do not consider the effect their policies have on surrounding communities. These criminals do not stay within the confines of the sanctuary cities. People outside these jurisdictions are affected by the crimes of criminals the sanctuary cities aim to protect. And because those affected live outside a sanctuary city’s jurisdiction, those people have no standing in the policies regarding sanctuary. Because their actions have the far-reaching effects, something must be done to protect the rest of us from their defiance of American law. It is incumbent on our Federal and State officials to correct these actions and bring these rogue “city-states” back in line with our nation’s ideals and laws.
Again, this is a very important point, the process of immigration includes ascertaining the applicant “be a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States.” Does either Edwin Ramos or Enrique Alvarez fit the bill? It is the Federal government that is entrusted to determine if a person is worthy of entry and/or citizenship. Sanctuary cities do not have a right to sidestep the immigration laws and make a person a veritable citizen.
So, what does the law say about this? Both Federal and State laws prohibit a policy which would establish a sanctuary city. The law is very clear about it, so why is it allowed to continue?
On the Federal side, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) addresses the relationship between Federal and State agencies. Section 642(a) of IIRIRA states;
Federal, State, or local government entity or official MAY NOT PROHIBIT, OR IN ANY WAY RESTRICT, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual. (U.S. Code, Title 8, Section 1373)
The State of California also requires liaison with Federal agencies in regards to illegal immigration, it states the following;
Every law enforcement agency in California shall fully cooperate with the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service regarding any person who is arrested if he or she is suspected of being present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws. (California Penal Code, Section 834b(a))
Any legislative, administrative, or other action by a city, county, or other legally authorized local governmental entity with jurisdictional boundaries, or by a law enforcement agency, to PREVENT OR LIMIT the cooperation required by subdivision (a) is expressly PROHIBITED. (California Penal Code, Section 834b(c))
San Francisco’s Sanctuary Ordinance violates all of these statutes. So why are they allowed to continue its practice? Frankly, we have sat on the sidelines for far too long. We have allowed a tail-wagging-the-dog situation drive this issue. Perhaps we have all dismissed places like San Francisco because all the nutty politics that have come out of there for many years. However, it is time we recognize that sanctuaries like San Francisco are encouraging illegal aliens to stream into our nation and reside without fear of the law. This practice is endangering the lives of American citizens and costing us billions in tax-payer monies.
The responsibility of correcting these actions falls squarely on the Governor and the Attorney General’s Office. As Attorney General, Jerry Brown, a San Francisco area native, has a duty to ensure compliance with the law, yet he has done nothing. You might consider that since he is running for Governor. In case you are curious about Brown’s position, listen to his answers about illegal immigration and you will understand where he stands…amnesty for all. Even though he is California’s “top cop”, he won’t even identify them as illegal.
I urge you to research your elected officials and learn about their stance on illegal immigration. Listen closely to what they say. Stop accepting terms like “undocumented resident”, it’s like calling a drug dealer an “undocumented pharmacist.” Politicians come up with these politically correct terms to pander to pro-illegal alien groups. Demand adherence to the law! Enough politics-as-usual!
Send emails, letters, missives, or carrier pigeons to your elected officials expressing your desire to clean up this mess. Every Governor, Senator, Representative, City Council, etc. have a website. That is your quickest and easiest avenue to voice your concerns. Remember they are our stewards, placed there by us, and just as easily replaced.
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