Alien enemies are under the law of nations, and liable to be punished for offences against it. Alien friends, except in the single case of public ministers, are under the municipal law, and must be tried and punished according to that law only. ~ James Madison (source)
I have quite a few readers of this blog who live outside the U.S. and last year I was asked for my thoughts about so-called “sanctuary cities.” With immigration having become a divisive issue not just in America but throughout the world, I have several thoughts. But first, let’s clarify what we mean by sanctuary city.
Ask someone here in the U.S. of what they think of sanctuary cities and, depending on who you talk to, one will likely be left with one of two impressions:
- They are cities harboring illegal aliens*.
- They are cities providing sanctuary to the least, the last, and the lost.
It turns out, however, that neither of these impressions is technically correct.
Whether a city is deemed to be a sanctuary city or not pertains solely to how local law enforcement handles a request from federal law enforcement to detain an illegal alien past the point of when they should legally be released**.
A sanctuary city will release an illegal alien that has not committed a serious crime after he has been cleared of charges. In contrast, a non-sanctuary city will, if requested by way of a federal detainer, hold that person until he is picked up by federal law enforcement.
Now, some may view the holding of an illegal alien by local law enforcement past the point of when they should be released as a simple courtesy to federal law enforcement. After all, with the large number of illegal aliens living in our country (10 to 12 million is the number I’ve seen reported) that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) needs help and cooperation is totally understandable. However, as someone who is keenly aware of the reminder offered by the Tenth Amendment to our Constitution (see last week’s article), I personally view these requests as an intrusion on local government.
Does that put me in the camp of pro-illegal alien groups who are pushing for open borders and wanting to abolish ICE?
I’m simply someone who believes as Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute David Post does that:
Jurisdictions that refuse to honor such requests are not providing “sanctuary” for people who break the law; they are providing “constitutional protections” for those individuals. (Washington Post)
Further, in my view, while I believe local law enforcement should assist ICE and other federal agencies that have the authority and jurisdiction to enforce our nation’s immigration laws (local agencies do not), they should not be asked/expected to act outside the confines of the law to do so.
On that note, a good time to end this blog and get ready to start my day. Before I do so, how about some music for our Manufacturing Peace of Mind™ Spotify playlist? Here then, off their new release Cocoa Sugar, is the Scottish band Young Fathers with their song “In My View.” The album is quite good and, as noted by The Guardian, “full of impressionistic, ambiguous lyrics, mixing biblical allusions, non sequiturs, and ancient proverbs.”
*An individual in America who is not a citizen is termed under federal law to be an “alien.” Therefore, an alien who is here without legal permission is by definition an “illegal alien.”
**With a few exceptions, aliens are in fact granted rights under our constitution; for example, the Fifth Amendment grants the right of due process and the Fourth Amendment protects from unreasonable search and seizure.
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