Saturday, April 23, 2011

A personal perspective on sanctuary cities

  As a third generation Mexican-American, I have tremendous respect for the immigrant story.  A person’s desire to improve his or her social and economic condition is admirable and I have personally benefited from the opportunity to live in a nation that welcomes newcomers. However, sanctuary cities distort immigration law by sending immigrants the message that rule of law does not matter.

This photo from the New York Times shows two men trying to hide 
from Border Patrol officers as they cross the Arizona border.

Proponents for sanctuary cities argue that offering illegal immigrants additional protection from federal law enforcement makes immigrants more willing to report crimes. As one pro-immigration think tank report argued, this could in turn improve community safety. Yet, advocates for sanctuary cities ignore the fact that sanctuary cities often also see high rates of crimes perpetrated by illegal immigrants (see previous post for an example of violence in a sanctuary cities). Fundamentally, sanctuary cities are based on the flawed logic that laws can or should be selectively applied. This is a dangerous precedent.
Sanctuary cities erode the rule of law and put illegal immigrants and U.S. citizens alike at risk.  By enabling illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S. undetected, sanctuary cities fuel the growing economic, physical, and security challenges posed by illegal immigration. Furthermore, illegal immigrants remain outside the protection of laws that could protect them from labor exploitation and physical violence. If the number of illegal immigrants flowing into the U.S. continues to increase, American communities will be unable to sustain the costs.

The below graph by the Federation for American Immigration Reform 
depicts the breakdown of state outlays for illegal immigration.

The U.S. should remain open to immigration, but the government needs to encourage all immigrants to play by the rules. As long as sanctuary cities continue to exist, illegal immigrants have little incentive to stand in line and come through the appropriate front doors to the country. Presently, sanctuary cities in Texas seem an unlikely possibility. However, given the immense budget deficit that Texas currently faces and given Texas’ rising number of illegal immigrants (who reportedly cost the state at least $250 million annually), the Texas legislature is justified in seeking to pass legislation that will limit future sanctuary cities in the state.  

- By Kimberly Dena

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