Are Sanctuary Policies the Canary in the Coal Mine?

When local communities declare themselves sanctuaries for illegal aliens, they are essentially sending the message that the interests of immigration law violators are more important than those of law-abiding citizens. When they extend those sanctuary policies to include protection of criminal aliens, they are declaring that the interests of foreign criminals are more important than the safety and security of the community.

New York City certainly exemplifies the inexorable expansion of protections for illegal aliens at the expense of the interests of everyone else. Beginning in the 1980s, under Mayor Ed Koch, the city began sending messages that obeying immigration laws is for chumps. Even under the otherwise tough-on-crime Rudy Giuliani, sanctuary protections and access to benefits expanded for illegal aliens. Of course, under current Mayor Bill de Blasio, all bets are off. Even hardened criminal aliens are shielded from federal immigration enforcement in the Big (rotting) Apple.

What New Yorkers are now discovering is that the decades-long assault on the foundations of civil society that began with the undermining of immigration law, does not end with immigration law. Rather it is a harbinger of further social disintegration.

This week, it was learned that New York City just couldn’t wait to implement a new state law requiring the pre-trial release, without cash bail, for miscreants charged with serious crimes. The new law – one of the top priorities for Democrats who gained control of both houses of the state legislature last year, and signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo – does not take effect until January 1. But city officials decided to jump the gun and sprung some 900 criminals from the Rikers Island detention facility two months early.

Those hitting the streets early include individuals charged with such “heinous acts as criminally negligent homicide, aggravated assault on a child under 11 and selling drugs on or near school grounds, according to a memo being circulated by prosecutors across the state,” reports the New York Post.

In lieu of detention, or even posting bail, Mayor de Blasio is offering incentives to ensure that those he released show up for their court dates. These incentives include tickets to Mets games, movie passes, and gift certificates. As one NYPD officer wondered sarcastically, “What does that say about the Mets? Are Yankees tickets reserved for murderers? I am sure it will only be a matter of time before they get out on no bail.’’

Perhaps. But the field level seats behind the Yankees’ dugout will surely be reserved for criminal aliens. What began as an effort by the city to coddle criminal aliens has paved the way for every criminal in New York to reap the rewards of showing contempt for the law. Government-sanctioned disrespect for immigration laws may serve as the canary in the coal mine leading to policies that effectively result in sanctuary for all manner of criminals.

About Author


Ira joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 1986 with experience as a journalist, professor of journalism, special assistant to Gov. Richard Lamm (Colorado), and press secretary of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. His columns have appeared in National Review, LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and more. He is an experienced TV and radio commentator.

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