Defiance can be noble, and it can be merely subversive. In the case of sanctuary cities, counties and states, there’s nothing noble about trashing the laws of an orderly society to shield uninvited intruders from justice. Jurisdictions that do so risk more than the loss of money. They walk a narrow path to anarchy.
Open defiance of the nation’s immigration law has become trendy in certain Democratic strongholds. Last week the U.S. Justice Department warned a group of American cities that they remain in violation of federal law by maintaining sanctuary city policies that prevent immigration officials from taking custody of illegals on their release from jail. The five jurisdictions are New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, New Orleans and Cook County, Ill.
These jurisdictions are at risk of losing federal grants to improve public safety. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions says offending city officials are failing their duties, and he has given them until Oct. 27 to demonstrate compliance or lose federal funding. “Jurisdictions that adopt so-called ‘sanctuary policies’ also adopt the view that the protection of criminal aliens is more important than the protection of law-abiding citizens and of the rule of law,” wrote Mr. Sessions in an accompanying statement.
Running to sympathetic courts, the offenders often find judges willing to make a pretzel of the law. On Friday, U.S. District Judge Harry Leibenweber of Chicago affirmed his earlier ruling that cities like Chicago have a relationship with immigrant communities that could suffer “irreparable harm” if they were to comply with the Justice Department’s ultimatum. Putting Humpty Dumpty together again might be easier than reassembling the pieces of the nation’s immigration laws broken by the sanctuarians.
Leaders of offending jurisdictions have their arguments for snubbing the authority of the federal government. Typical is the response of a spokesman for the New York City Council: “New York City will continue to do everything in our power to protect our vulnerable immigrant communities against these deranged threats. We will not be changing our policies.”
The hypocrisy of claiming righteousness to disguise trashing the law is readily apparent, and residents are voting with their feet. If a growing population indicates a healthy community, decline is a sign of decay.
Each of the cities called out by Mr. Sessions is caught in a downward population spiral. Since 2014, New York City has shrunk by nearly 300,000, or 3.5 percent of its population. Chicago has lost 24,000, or nearly 1 percent, and the surrounding municipality of Cook County has bled 1 percent, or 54,000 residents. About 34,000 have fled Philadelphia, 2.2 percent of its population, and New Orleans, recovering from Hurricane Katrina, has lost more than 40,000 or 10 percent of its people.
Conscientious leaders might ask themselves what they’re doing wrong. Cities managed by Democrats have hemorrhaged population long before the advent of the sanctuary trend, which is a mark of refusal to admit failure to serve the interests of their communities.
When residents see their elected representatives defy laws meant to keep their streets secure, while creating safe spaces for illegals, it’s clear that Mr. Sessions is correct: Sanctuaries protect lawbreakers at the expense of the law-abiding. It’s not so surprising that many of the law-abiding are clearing out.
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