Friday, May 7, 2021

Sanctuary: when is it OK and when is it not

I've seen quite a few "conservatives"  arguing that anyone promoting Second Amendment sanctuaries is a hypocrite if they opposed Sanctuary Cities by the left concerning immigration.  Trying to square that circle so I delved back into my thoughts on the matter.  Here's what I came up with.

I think it's important to distinguish between three separate actions.

1. Refusing to assist the federal government with local resources

2. Actively hindering federal government officials by blocking their actions

3. Actively hindering federal government officials by hiding illegal actions

I think I support 1.  The federal government can't coopt local resources or law enforcement.  They can pass a law stating that x is illegal under federal law but enforcement then falls on federal law enforcement agencies.  They can't require local police to arrest people for possession of a controlled substance.

I might be OK with 2 but at some point it bleeds into 1.  What if the federal government asks to be notified when an illegal alien with a criminal record (but I repeat myself since they all, by definition, are criminals but I digress.  Let's focus on some random MS-13 gang member.) is arrested so that they can pick him up for deportation and/or prosecution?  Maybe that notification falls under action 1 but since most government bureaucrats have time on their hands, making that phone call might be 1 or it might be 2.  Preventing federal officials from entering secure areas of a state building for law enforcement purposes?  I guess I don't really have any problems with that.  It is a state building, not a federal building.

I'm pretty sure I oppose 3 unless you are willing to pay the consequences.  The judge who snuck a convicted felon out the back door of her court room to keep INS from grabbing him as he came out the front is an example.  She may have been morally correct (although my reading of the case at the time suggested otherwise) but she must then suffer the consequences of her actions.  Prohibiting INS officials from raiding a business when they have evidence of criminal wrongdoing?  I'm no lawyer but I don't think you can do that.  I'd assume they'd need a proper warrant.

So now that I've delved a little, I'm no more clear on where I stand.

Tangential wanderings

Another related topic that comes into play then is whether the states can then enforce federal law in the absence of a willingness by the feds to do so.  Arizona ran into this during the Obama administration when federal law enforcement refused to enforce immigration law, so they directed their law enforcement to do so.  

I'm not convinced you can have it both ways.  Either enforcing federal law is the sole province of federal law enforcement, in which case sanctuary status is a perfectly acceptable response to state opposition to said law: or federal law is the responsibility of all citizens as much as state or local law, in which case all sanctuaries are defacto illegal.

I guess I'm going to have to give this more thought.  Odd how complicated moral decisions can be more nuanced than originally thought.

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