WALDRON: Are ‘sanctuary cities’ really safer?

Published 9:23 am Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Republicans generally do not support sanctuary cities and liberal Democrats generally do.  There must be a reason for that difference.  I suspect that both sides have a hidden motive that directs their support or opposition.  I’ll address that later.  First, I’d like to discuss the public reasons both sides give.  The Democrats say that law enforcement will receive much greater support and information from Latino communities if individuals don’t fear that Federal law enforcement will swoop down to deport them.  Republicans don’t agree.

I have never encountered any objective data that supports or doesn’t support that theory.  In fact, many sanctuary cities purposefully don’t collect data that identifies illegal immigrants.  Balanced against that lack of data is an opposing theory that many illegal immigrants could be in gangs such as MS-13.  Some could be foreign terrorists or drug smugglers.  Some could be ordinary criminals.  I don’t know what percentage of illegal immigrants engage in illegal activity and how many do not.  Who does know?  Who is studying this?

My suspicion is that most illegal immigrants won’t cooperate with the police no matter whether they live in a sanctuary city or not.  Imagine you are an illegal immigrant.  You left a country where the police are rougher and less constrained by law than in the United States.  You may or may not speak English.  You don’t know the culture.  You’re scared.

Democrats also refer to the Statue of Liberty and summon up images of Ellis Island to make the case that we’re a nation of immigrants.  Some religious leaders argue that we should welcome the oppressed to our country.  Those arguments are good and, if we lived in a different period of time, I might heed those arguments–but we don’t.  We must control our borders because terrorists, smugglers, and criminals would otherwise take advantage.  Immigrants should be able to enter once proper vetting of their backgrounds has been done.

What makes this issue so hard is that most Americans instinctively side with new immigrants, but most also realize that the real reason that the issue has become politicized is politics.  Historically, immigrants vote Democratic—at least the first generation does.  President Trump only made this issue harder to sort out when he all but charged that Mexican immigrants were rapists and other criminals.  It was most unfortunate that he did so because it’s not fair and it’s untrue.

I wish that we could honestly discuss this issue.  I wish politics would take a holiday; however, that’s not likely in this election year.  Expect both sides to hit us with half-truths and bold-faced lies.  In the meantime, wouldn’t it be nice to know the truth?  I would like to know whether illegal immigrants in sanctuary cities cooperate more with police than illegal immigrants in non-sanctuary cities.

Michael Waldron