The Real Problem With Sanctuary Cities

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Mon, Jul 13 - 9:00 am EST | 3 years ago by
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Lines of Departure - Sanctuary Cities

On 1 July of this year, a young and beautiful American woman, Kathryn Steinle, was walking with her father along San Francisco’s Pier 14 – a well-known tourist spot – when an illegal immigrant1 shot and killed her, either at random or, as the killer, Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez, claimed, because the pistol went off accidentally three times.

Ummm…yeah…and I have this bridge for sale…

Some, notably supporters of the idea of sanctuary cities,2 places where it is either the policy or the law not to enforce or assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law, have attempted to poo-poo and tut-tut Kate Steinle’s murder away as just being a kind of comedy of errors, with no one and no policy to blame, or to blame it on homelessness and lack of “intervention.”3 Still others urge a crackdown on sanctuary cities.4 And the less said about idiotic statements from White House press secretaries, the better.5


A couple of observations about “sanctuaries:”

1. Most sanctuaries will not honor Immigrations and Customs Enforcement detainers, see the map at footnote 2, but will honor warrants for arrest for criminal acts other than violation of immigration law. Some, like Orleans Parish, Louisiana, will only honor a criminal warrant for the most serious crimes.6 San Francisco County isn’t quite as uncooperative as that. At least, I think San Francisco will honor a warrant for simple rape, without requiring that it be aggravated.

2. The first sanctuary city was Los Angeles, which used the fig leaf of protecting refugees from Central America from being deported to face death squads. Having dealt pretty closely with people claiming to be fleeing death squads and other persecutions, during the Haitian internment on Guantanamo, in 1991 and 1992, color me deeply skeptical about the percentages of refugees that are doing anything but looking for a better economic life. The interview process actually serves as a school to teach them to adjust their stories so as to appear to be in more danger than may actually be the case. Being denied refugee status once, the stories change on the second attempt, and often rather substantially.

Note that many, but not all, come in willing to work for that life. And some – notably the core cadre which formed MS-13 – were probably criminals in the first place, who arguably needed a good dose of killing back in El Salvador.7

3. To be fair, we cannot cheer too wildly for those local polities and law enforcement departments that refuse to cooperate with BATFE8 or the justice department, or their home state to enforce gun laws9 and condemn too roundly others that refuse to cooperate with immigration law. At one level, at least, they are very similar, because…

4. …at one level, requiring local towns, cities, counties, and states to devote their own resources – time and money – to supporting federal law is constrained if not quite illegal under the Unfunded Mandate Reform Act of 1995. I’d also say that – despite a great deal of New Deal legislation and Civil Rights legislation that was upheld by the courts – allowing the federal government to force cities, counties, and states to spend money without recompense is just flat a violation of federalism and utterly unconstitutional.

Note, for all you lefties who just love unfunded mandates, that the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was one such.

In any case, just imagine the extreme: “We’ve decided that ultra-high end vacations for the first lady and her children are much better uses of tax dollars, so we’re going to stop enforcing any degree of border control at all, spend the money on those vacations, and require the states, counties, cities, and towns of the United States to pay for all immigration enforcement.” Who wouldn’t give the uplifted finger of fellowship to the federal government over something like that? Especially since…

5. Control of the national border is not just a job for the national government, it is JOB ONE.

And that’s pretty much where the problem began, with massive numbers of folks who made it across an essentially unguarded border, and became Juan, the gardener (on whom no social security taxes were paid), Rosalita, the maid (on whom no social security taxes were paid), Jesús, the fruitpicker (on whom no social security taxes were paid), and Maria, the migrant Democratic voter registration specialist, who operates in season in Californian and Illinois graveyards (and on whom no social security taxes were paid).

These folks stopped being foreigners, unknown and unknowable, and became people we knew, friends and even family, or just like people we knew as friends and family.10 Add in that our friends, “Rosalita, Jesús, y Maria,”11 were brown, hence inherently virtuous and worthy of protection for the ever so evil, wicked, bad, naughty, and badbadbad white racist America (RRAAYYYYCCCIIISSSSTTTT!!!!) and you arrive at, “Well, we’re just not going to let them be deported.”


So what’s the problem? It’s not just Kathryn Steinle, shot at random, nor even the occasional duo of American teenaged girls gang raped and viciously murdered.12 Those are bad but not existential. No, the problem is that that we’re effectively ceding sovereignty of a part of our country to people (to include a large number of highly caring and sensitive white people, of course) who a) hate our guts for stealing that part in the first place, or just for what we are,13 b) are not necessarily the pillars of the Mexican or other society they’re running from, therefore, c) are unlikely to be able to keep a modern state going any better than Mexico is, so d) are likely to continue to run from what they’ve been fleeing all along, Mexico and Central America, while e) if we couldn’t secure the current border, with both a broad if shallow river and a lot of inhospitable to the point of deadly desert to help, we’re not likely to be able to secure the Rio Grande plus another nine hundred or so miles, bordering on or closer to more hospitable terrain, that is also more rugged, hence tougher to patrol and control.

Related to that is the Volkswanderung problem, which destroyed the Western Roman Empire and which began when Rome was unable to prevent a contiguous, socially cohesive, and culturally unassimilable tribe from settling inside its borders. True, Latins are not coming in as entire socially cohesive tribes; oh, no, they come in as individuals or in small groups but become socially cohesive tribes, like, say, MS-13, once they arrive and settle in. Big difference…not. Frankly, we’re heading for – along with every other kind of fracture imaginable – a race war over possession of our southwest and west coast. Think here: Yugoslavia but nastier.

And the solution?

Number one is seal the border. In the process, ignore childish protests like, “For every 50-foot fence there’s a 51-foot ladder.” Yeah? For every 51-foot ladder there’s a 50-caliber machine gun. You wouldn’t have to use them more than once or twice, either. Moreover, you will kill a lot fewer than are going to die in that race war cum Volkswanderung that’s coming.

Number two: Cut off all aid, indeed, all federal spending, in any city, state, or county that refuses to cooperate with immigration enforcement. At the same time, pay a per head price, based – generously – on the cost of enforcement, to the jurisdiction for everyone turned over for deportation. It won’t work, though, until the border is secure.

Number three is the Blazing Saddles-Rock Ridge approach, which is to say the first minute or so of this. No, we needn’t deputize them. All we need do is comb the prisons for the worst violent offenders who were also illegal immigrants, give them a conditional pardon – pardoned on condition of staying where we send them, sort them, bus them to San Francisco County and Orleans Parish, perhaps a few other places, and then release them into those sanctuaries.14

Doesn’t it just tug at the heartstrings, though, all that caring and sensitivity and anti-racism and sanctuary granting? It sure moves me.


1 No, goddammit, I don’t mean any politically correct, euphemistic bullshit like “undocumented worker,” I mean illegal immigrant; indeed, having been caught and deported some five times, Lopez was about as illegal as you can get.

2 There are also sanctuary counties and at least two sanctuary states, by the way, the latter being North Dakota and Rhode Island




6 From the map in fn 2: Policy: Case 2:11-cv-00225- SS
Criteria for Honoring Detainer: Charged with first or second degree murder, aggravated rape, aggravated kidnapping, treason, or armed robbery with the use of a firearm

7 Look up Sombra Negra, which is a pretty good illustration of what you get when the law no longer works, and especially when a large and prosperous country – us – deports hardened criminals – MS-13 – who have effectively been given sanctuary for their criminal operations by one of our cities – Los Angeles – back to their own country – El Salvador – where they can expand their operations. Yes, I’m pretty sure that MS-13 is in good part a creature of that first sanctuary city policy, in Los Angeles. So maybe they saved some people, genuine refugees, but also maybe they created the environment to get quite a few more people killed. Ah, but, no matter, so long as the very sensitive and caring, to say nothing of prosperous, whites of LA get to feel good about themselves, just so caring and sensitive and wonderful and superior, and only poor brown and black folks get killed.

8 I would expect everyone to know what that is, but just in case, the Bureau Of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

9 and, for example

10 Why yes, as a matter of fact, service in the Army, to include four and a half years with what amounted to America’s Latin Foreign Legion, in Panama, plus marriage to her – – for 36 years has made me sympathetic to Latins, in general. Those folks who wanted to keep Rosalita here and safe were not necessarily motivated solely by not having to pay Social Security tax on her earnings. Oh, and my first lefty reader who wants to call “racist” over this column? Yeah, go fuck yourself.

11 Woody Guthrie’s “Deportees (Plane Wreck At Los Gatos)”, surely one of the least factual protest songs ever to arise from the diseased soul of leftism. I like the Danny Doyle version, myself.

12 My only problem with the execution was the sad and unfortunate dearth of nails used in the process.

13 Partly true, partly bullshit. Over most of the liberated area of Texas and the conquests of the Mexican War, Americans, not Mexicans, were either an absolute majority or, at least, a majority of the non-Indian population.

14 By the way, the above is my kinder and gentler version. If you think that’s harsh, you’re just not ready for the tough version.

Tom Kratman is a retired infantry lieutenant colonel, recovering attorney, and science fiction and military fiction writer. His latest novel, The Rods and the Axe, is available from for $9.99 for the Kindle version, or $25 for the hardback. A political refugee and defector from the People’s Republic of Massachusetts, he makes his home in Blacksburg, Virginia. He holds the non-exclusive military and foreign affairs portfolio for EveryJoe. Tom’s books can be ordered through

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