The Slippery Slope of Sanctuary

Sanctuary policies that protect illegal aliens do not exist in a vacuum; they reflect a mindset. What began as an attempt to ensure “law-abiding” illegal aliens that it was safe for them to report crimes or provide information to police has turned into stringently enforced ordinances that protect even violent criminals from being turned over to immigration authorities for deportation.

Lest anyone think that disdain for the rule of law was unique to immigration laws, recent rapidly escalating events indicate that sanctuary policies were just the first loose thread in an attempted systematic unravelling the fabric of civil society.

What began as forbearance for impoverished immigration law violators, eventually morphed into protection for criminal aliens and a form of self-righteous resistance to the very notion of immigration laws in the name of “social justice.” Some of America’s most progressive (a euphemistic term for nihilistic and anarchical) bastions have crashed through that barrier and are careening toward the abolition of nearly all civil laws in pursuit of social justice. They are now testing whether it is possible to have justice – social or otherwise – without laws.

In Philadelphia, George Soros-funded District Attorney Larry Krasner has ceased prosecuting even many violent criminals. In the City of Brotherly Love, commission of a crime involving a gun is more likely to land you in a therapy session than a court of law. (Soros, not coincidentally, has committed vast amounts of money to breaking down immigration laws.) Under Krasner, criminals receive “social justice,” while Philadelphians endure the nation’s second highest homicide rate. Needless to say, Philadelphia has proudly been a sanctuary for illegal aliens for years.

But Philadelphia’s got nothing on Seattle, when it comes to dismantling the rule of law in the name of social justice. A decade ago, Seattle crossed the barrier between passively shielding illegal aliens from federal authorities to actively protecting criminals, when it reduced the maximum sentencing for misdemeanor offenses (some of which can be quite serious crimes), for the expressed purpose of preventing noncitizens from being deported.

Having negated laws in order to protect immigration law violators, Seattle now stands on the banks of the Rubicon, on the verge of eliminating nearly all civil and criminal laws in the city. Earlier this fall, City Councilwoman Lisa Herbold introduced (snuck, might be a more appropriate verb) legislation that would have eliminated prosecution of virtually all misdemeanor “crimes of poverty,” thereby excusing perpetrators who could show “substance abuse disorder,” “mental disorder,” or “poverty.”

These crimes account for about 90 percent of prosecutions in the city. According to Change WA, under Herbold’s amendment to the city’s budget (which was dropped for now), “Any perpetrator with a credible claim of behavioral health symptoms – anything from drug use to depression – would effectively have blanket immunity from prosecution for misdemeanor assault, theft, harassment, trespass, stalking, car prowl, and 100 other Seattle criminal laws.”

The long-running assault on immigration laws and enforcement, it seems, has been less of an end in itself for progressive nihilists than a first step in pursuit of much greater ends: tearing down a social system that they see as irredeemably racist, repressive, and paternalistic. As journalist Christopher Rufo observes, in the worldview of hard core progressives, the people who break laws are forced to do so “to secure their very existence. Therefore, as society is the perpetrator of this inequality, the crimes of the poor must be forgiven. The crimes are transformed into an expression of social justice.”

With a new administration that seems committed to abolishing all meaningful immigration enforcement and excusing violators in the name of social justice set to take office, the nation could lose more than just control of its borders.

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.