"What are ya gonna do now, Leander? The feds have the bomb."
-- Earl Long to Leander Perez
It's probably not the top priority in the Arkansas General Assembly these days, and maybe rightfully so. But passing a red-flag law doesn't seem to be a top priority, either, and might not be until something horrible happens. Does something horrible have to happen before Arkansas joins its neighbors in banning sanctuary cities? (Or, for that matter, passing red-flag laws?)
Senate Bill 411 by Gary Stubblefield sounds more like a "follow the law" law--that is, a reminder to cities around the state that the feds have the bomb. And cities can't go around changing immigration policy.
Well, they shouldn't be able to. If their state legislatures would have passed similar bills, there wouldn't be sanctuary cities in Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, Boston, Baltimore . . . .
Under SB411, Arkansas cities that skate around federal immigration rules and grant sanctuary--that is, by ordering their police not to report illegal aliens--would lose certain state funding. Under the bill, cities would not be allowed to prevent cops from asking about citizenship or immigration status, either.
Opposition is small, but vocal. Some are complaining about the loss of local control.
But this isn't a matter of local control. The federal government is in charge of immigration, as per Article I of the United States Constitution--more precisely, the clause about the feds being in charge of establishing a "uniform Rule of Naturalization." A cottage industry has evolved recently that questions whether that means "immigration," and whether the founders meant so, but we just know what the Supreme Court has ruled over and again: Immigration is a federal ballpark.
And this isn't just a matter of who can be the meanest to immigrants. Immigration isn't the issue. Illegal immigration is.
If there's little difference between illegal immigrants and the legal kind, why even have an immigration system at all? Or laws? It seems unfair to legal immigrants--who wait their turn and go through the system--if illegal immigrants get the same treatment under the law. In fact, that sounds a lot like the argument for those who favor a completely open border to the United States.
Sanctuary cities were in the news long before Donald Trump became president. Here is an opinion piece from a media source from back in the summer of 2015, when President Obama was in charge of the enforcing Congress' laws:
"For years, San Francisco law enforcement agencies have refused to work with federal immigration authorities, insisting that cooperation would subvert their efforts to cultivate good relations with the city's highly diverse immigrant communities. In practice, the city's sanctuary policy, applied blindly, subverts common sense by allowing dangerous criminals a free pass."
Fox News? The Washington Times? The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette?
No. That was the lede from a Washington Post editorial. This shouldn't be a red-state/blue-state, conservative/liberal issue. It should be a matter of constitutional jurisdiction.
La ley es la ley--the law is the law. Cities can't pick and choose which federal laws they follow. As arcane as those rules may sound to some, they're still rules.
Rather than every city going its own way, a better solution would be to fix this nation's long-broken immigration system. Or at least stitch it together in a halfway rational pattern. Build a wall. E-verify workers. Protect the so-called Dreamers. Allow those into this country who are good folks who can work, teach, heal and help. And do it all while being opposed by the habitual naysayers who wouldn't be themselves if they weren't standing in the way of reform.
And who should make these changes in the law?
The feds. That is, Congress.
Not city hall. Whether that city hall is in San Francisco or someplace closer to home.
Editorial on 04/09/2019
Print Headline: La ley es la ley