Has America Reached Its Breaking Point on Sanctuary Policies?


March 3, 2023

By Brian Lonergan

As modern society races forward to embrace digital technology and global connectivity, some time-worn principles remain unchanged. The truth matters. Results matter. Some ideas can be made fashionable with ubiquitous propaganda, media campaigns, and focus group-tested language. But, if those ideas do not deliver on their promises and serve the public, then the public will eventually sour on them. 

That time may have arrived when it comes to sanctuary policies in America. For years, the American public has been carpet-bombed with talking points extolling the virtues of policies that harbor illegal aliens and defy federal efforts to enforce our immigration laws. Sanctuary policies create a more welcoming community, we have been told. Those here illegally are more willing to cooperate with local police in sanctuary cities. Those who have dared to oppose sanctuary policies have been marginalized as hateful, xenophobic racists.

Yet, despite the slick PR campaign, results matter and can only be hidden for so long. As it turns out, critics of sanctuary policies are being vindicated. Sanctuary communities are indeed more chaotic. They are increasingly strapped for limited resources. In addition to aliens simply looking to work, there is also a criminal element that sees an opportunity in the permissive environment. 

A growing contingent of the public has taken notice and is demanding action. In what by today’s media standards would qualify as a “man bites dog” story, western Pennsylvania’s Butler County has terminated its designation as a sanctuary county. Local police will now work cooperatively with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to transfer custody of criminal aliens for possible deportation. The reasons for the change appear to have more to do with survival of the community than with mean-spiritedness or nativism. 

“Our crime is not just DUIs and retail theft anymore. We have drugs,” said Richard Goldinger, the county district attorney. “Again, that stuff has not come from citizens that are making fentanyl in Butler County. It’s being brought here.” 

In even the bluest of blue communities, the schtick of virtue-signaling big-city mayors on sanctuary policies appears to be losing its appeal.

While anti-borders activists claim that sanctuary policies serve to welcome and protect immigration violators, even that talking point doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Because criminal aliens often live among other foreign nationals, the victims of crimes committed by illegal aliens are often other illegal aliens or legal immigrants.

When ICE is prevented from acquiring criminal aliens in the security of a jail facility, they are forced to apprehend them in a home or workplace. This presents far more danger to ICE agents, to the alien in question and other innocent people in the vicinity. Given those facts, sanctuary policies create more danger to illegal immigrants, not less. The only beneficiaries of such policies are dangerous criminal aliens and the self-serving politicians who enable them. 

Some state governments have been aggressive in combating sanctuary laws. Last year Governor Laura Kelly signed a bill making Kansas the latest state to prohibit sanctuary policies. Kansas is one of at least 13 states that bans sanctuary cities, and there are numerous similar bills pending in other states.   

Even in big cities, the sanctuary rhetoric of local politicians has not matched the results. The actions of Governors Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis ofFloridae to export illegal aliens to blue cities exposed the Potemkin nature of those sanctuary cities. 

New York City is one of the most vocal sanctuary jurisdictions and currently holds the top position in the Immigration Reform Law Institute’s list of America’s most dangerous sanctuary communities. All it took was less than 50,000 illegal aliens to the city of over 8 million for New York Mayor and sanctuary advocate Eric Adams to proclaim that there was “no more room at the inn” and that his city has been financially crippled from the new arrivals. What happened to Adams’ superior compassion? Funny how all the hot air about being a “welcoming city” gets tossed when the financial realities sink in.

In even the bluest of blue communities, the schtick of virtue-signaling big-city mayors appears to be losing its appeal. Lori Lightfoot, the GOAT of hypocrite sanctuary mayors, was summarily rejected by Chicagoans this week in her bid for re-election. A sky-high crime rate was Lightfoot’s undoing, made worse in no small part by her dogmatic support of sanctuary policies. Even in a city known for corruption and its legendary political machine favoring Lightfoot’s party, the mayor’s abysmal track record was a bridge too far for city residents.    

Because of our generous nature as a people, the American public listened to the sanctuary rhetoric and gave it a chance. But because results matter, they have seen what sanctuary policies actually deliver and don’t want to live with them. Those in other sanctuary communities would benefit by judging the results of those policies and acting accordingly.

Brian Lonergan is director of communications at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of illegal migration.

Also published at American Greatness, March 3, 2023. Also published at The Ohio Star, March 4, 2023.

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