Friday, December 23, 2016

"Sanctuary policies are an exercise of basic state and local powers"

Here's an opportunity for local governments throughout the land to protect vulnerable, innocent residents, write three law professors in the Washington Post. The article, "Trump can’t force ‘sanctuary cities’ to enforce his deportation plans," explains the constitutional principles that support local opposition to certain federal anti-immigrant actions. These principles, based on the tenth amendment, have in the past been upheld by courts in cases brought by conservatives. Erwin Chemerinsky, Annie Lai, and Seth Davis, the law professors at the University of California at Irvine, explain:
"Cities and public universities are exercising their constitutional authority when they declare themselves 'sanctuaries' in response to Donald Trump’s vow to deport 2 million to 3 million immigrants upon taking office next month. Trump has threatened to force state and local governments to implement his deportation policies, including by taking away federal funds, but such actions would be unconstitutional and likely halted by the courts." ...
"Sanctuary policies are an exercise of basic state and local powers to regulate for the health, safety and welfare of their residents. Some entities have acted out of a moral objection to mass deportations, but that is rarely the only motivation. Many local leaders recognize that sanctuary policies are vital to preserving police-community relations and ensuring that residents feel safe reporting crimes and accessing basic government services. Still others are responding to the risk that collaboration with federal immigration officials could lead to racial profiling and civil liberties violations. Public schools and universities have voiced concern that more aggressive immigration enforcement will jeopardize student safety and interfere with their schools’ educational missions."
Legal precedent rests on cases that concerned local efforts to override Federal gun control laws. I am particularly happy to read this:
"In an opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia, the court held that the [Brady handgun] act violated principles of federalism and the 10th Amendment for Congress by compelling state and local governments to comply with a federal mandate. Under the anti-commandeering principle, the federal government can no more require state and local governments to help it carry out mass deportations than it can require local officers to investigate and enforce federal gun laws."
The California legislature and other local authorities are considering how to legislate or make policy to protect their vulnerable residents legally, without shielding actual criminals.

Mayor Javier Gonzales
A few weeks ago, I heard an NPR interview with Santa Fe's mayor, Javier Gonzales. Mayor Gonzales, along with several mayors around the country from Chicago to New York to Seattle, have pledged that their cities will remain safe places for people without documentation. The mayor's statement:
"This is a test of our values. Every leader across the country will have to make a decision about, what are we going to stand for? And so there is a real choice that I'm prepared to make and be held accountable for. ... I've got to believe that the president-elect who said his primary focus was to create jobs in our country, who has said that he wants to heal and move forward -- that he'll see this as a very divisive, hate-driven type of rhetoric that does not allow our country to be great again. If anything, it further divides us and it moves us in the wrong direction."

UPDATE January 26, 2017. The new administration is indeed threatening sanctuary cities, and their mayors are pushing back. See: "‘Sanctuary City’ Mayors Vow to Defy Trump’s Immigration Order." 
I will do another post on the subject soon.

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