Politicians can't resist the opportunity to pile on to a juicy news story for a quick bit of campaign face time. The bloodier the better, so in the wake of Kate Steinle's murder in San Francisco, allegedly at the hands of an "illegal immigrant," it's no surprise to see the usual suspects getting their knickers in a public twist over "sanctuary cities."
A prominent anti-immigration propaganda mill, the Center for Immigration Studies, classifies more than 200 US cities, counties and states as "sanctuary cities." These political subdivisions, as a matter of public policy, ignore and/or decline to cooperate with the federal government's immigration regulation schemes.
Those of us who are more concerned with the truth than with exploiting a woman's death for cheap political gain should support sanctuary cities as an unmitigated good.
Even setting aside several inconvenient facts — the fact that "the borders of the United States" command no more moral significance than the turf lines of any other street gang; the fact that the U.S. Constitution forbids the federal government to regulate immigration; the fact that "illegal immigration" statistically reduces rather than increases violent crime; and the fact that "illegal immigration" keeps the US economy afloat by holding down labor costs and therefore the price of everything from produce to poultry to home construction — sanctuary cities are, quite simply, a bulwark against federal law enforcement overreach which represents a danger to all our freedoms.
FBI agents don't go around handing out speeding tickets on the streets of Peoria. Policing local traffic isn't the federal government's job.
Florida and California don't have their own navies or customs inspectors. Conducting foreign wars and policing international commerce aren't duties of the state governments.
Nor is it the duty of any city, county or state government to enforce U.S. immigration law. Each level of government has its own duties and functions. Sanctuary cities are federalism in action.
Every dollar or minute that a police officer in Boston or Boise spends doing Immigration and Custom Enforcement's job is a dollar or minute that police officer can't spend doing his or her own job.
To put it a different way, local resources spent enforcing federal immigration law are local resources no longer available to spend on investigating rapes, robberies, murders and thefts. Sanctuary cities have their priorities straight. Opponents of sanctuary cities don't.
In truth, nothing less than a police state along the lines of the former East Germany could even make a dent in "illegal immigration." Every dollar spent on that evil and impossible task at ANY level of government is a waste at best and a threat to the public's freedom and safety at worst. Sanctuary cities guard everyone's liberty.
Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org).