Understanding Sanctuary Cities

02/03/2017 11:55 am ET

A few years ago I was coming down the stairs in my two story home and I looked out the window as I often did. When looking out, I could see a school parking lot a couple of blocks away where someone was being brutally beaten by three others. I had my cell phone and immediately called 911 and as I spoke to the Houston PD operator, I headed to my car and began to drive to where this incident was taking place — I had no idea what I was going to do once I arrived, but I was hoping that the fact someone had noticed, would make the perpetrators stop. Sure enough, as I pulled up, they ran, leaving a man who was clearly injured.

As I was about to get out of my car, a couple of police cars pulled up and I hesitated so they could go to work uninterrupted. After a few minutes, I got out of my vehicle and began to walk towards one of the officers and I told him I had made the call. He said, “this is unfortunately very common. This man is an undocumented worker from Mexico and he has no interest in turning in his attackers.” Houston, Texas has long been a so-called “sanctuary city,” so I found this surprising. “Does he not know how this city handles undocumented workers?” I asked. The officer said the man did understand, but had no intention to say a word. He went on to say that, the reality was, “sanctuary cities make things more dangerous for everyone.”

He went on to elaborate by saying that people in this country that are here illegally are actually incredibly enlightened on how local governments work. Furthermore, they compare life in the US with back home. He said, that countries and cities south of the border often arbitrarily change the laws with little regard to due process. Also, he said that there were many stories of cities that were once “sanctuary” here in the US that changed very quickly with new leadership. These undocumented neighbors believe that, if they report anything to the police, the government will have information about them. If that government changes to being hostile to illegals, they will no longer be safe. As a result, they simply choose to remain silent, regardless of the city’s “sanctuary” status. The officer said that, for all practical purposes, “there are no sanctuary cities. They create a false sense of security that enhances a culture that is dangerous to everyone.”

In spite of this, the officer said that so-called “sanctuary cities” are actually a magnet to undocumented workers, because at least these municipalities are not currently openly hostile to them. But the large number of undocumented visitors that these cities attract are dangerous to everyone, making a situation where many “illegals” are violent to other “illegals,” without consequence and this culture of lawlessness spills over to the general population. In fact, even the Washington Post, which is hardly a conservative or xenophobic rag, has noted the connection between higher crime and the undocumented.

It is no surprise that the Trump administration has carried through with the promise to financially punish cities that maintain a “sanctuary” policy. Very few are protesting the policy, except for the politicians who fear the lost of federal dollars that will come if they are not compliant with this new executive order. For most Americans, if a city is unwilling to abide by federal law, it should face financial consequences.

Historically, a “sanctuary” has been used in the context of being a sacred place, such as a shrine. The name “sanctuary” implied a place “set apart.” Safe by design. To most Americans, “sanctuary cities” are the antithesis of safe. They should be called what they are, which is lawless and are creating a violent and dangerous place for both our citizens and those who visit this country illegally.

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