Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The End of Sanctuary Cities

 

Jeff SessionsWill we finally be eliminating or at least holding accountable sanctuary cities in this country? Will Jeff Sessions, as our new US Attorney General, be able to stop this blatant violation of federal law? It won’t be easy.

For background, sanctuary cities began to form in the 1980s; in 1996, however, Congress passed a law known as the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), which required local governments to cooperate with DHS Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Unfortunately, hundreds of communities have ignored the law or adopted “sanctuary policies” in defiance of it.

A 2006 Congressional Research Service report listed 32 counties and cities with explicit sanctuary ordinances. A number of cities have adopted similar resolutions since then, including Berkeley, Oakland and East Palo Alto.

To show the magnitude of the problem, the Texas Tribune conducted a yearlong study on the topic of border security and immigration. They determined that local jails around the country failed to hand over illegal immigrants 18,000 times. Many of those apprehended were known as “declined detainers”; detainers are requests from federal immigration authorities for a local jail to hold non-citizen inmates subject to removal — usually booked on crimes unrelated to immigration violations — for up to 48 additional hours so federal officials can take them into custody.

Since there are both formal (laws established) and informal sanctuary cities, it’s difficult to determine how many there actually are. Jessica Vaughan at the Center for Immigration Studies reported the following:

Sanctuary jurisdictions remain a significant public safety problem throughout the country. About 300 jurisdictions have been identified by ICE as having a policy that is non-cooperative and obstructs immigration enforcement (as of September 2015). The number of cities has remained relatively unchanged since our last update in January 2016, as some new sanctuary jurisdictions have been added and few jurisdictions have reversed their sanctuary policies…

The Department of Justice’s Inspector General recently found that some of the sanctuary jurisdictions appear to be violating federal law, and may face debarment from certain federal funding or other consequences.

Sanctuary city policies were highlighted in July 2015 when Kate Steinle was shot and killed in San Francisco by an undocumented immigrant and repeat felon who had been deported to Mexico five times. “San Francisco police had released him from custody after drug charges were dropped, despite a request from the Department of Homeland Security to deport him.”

Some Texas cities are under pressure to adopt similar “sanctuary” policies, and Gov. Greg Abbott has threatened to cut state funds from counties refusing to cooperate with federal immigration policies.

In an analysis of data from Immigrant Legal Resource Center, the New York Times tallied 39 cities and 364 counties across the country that in some way limit how much local law enforcement can cooperate with federal detention requests. It’s unclear, however, how much action some of these jurisdictions have taken, other than officially expressing opposition (that may not be legally binding) to what they consider harsh federal or state immigration laws.

And organizations in some municipalities even challenge the label. In 2011, for instance, the Los Angeles Times editorial board denied that Los Angeles was a sanctuary city, even though in 1979 the city had enacted a measure to prevent local police from inquiring about the immigration status of those arrested, one of the first cities in the country to do so.

Why do public officials pass sanctuary laws or establish unwritten “don’t ask–don’t tell” policies?

There are a variety of reasons .

Some politicians attempt to appease politically powerful illegal immigration support groups such as the National Council of La Raza, Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund, and League of United Latin American Citizens that lobby local governments to implement formal or informal sanctuary policies. Other reasons include political contributions and ethnic voter support at election time; complacency, ignorance, or ‘don’t care’ attitudes; and purposeful resistance to existing U.S. immigration law based upon an open-border political philosophy that may serve their economic, political, or ethnocentric interests.

A number of politically appointed big city police chiefs often support an administration’s sanctuary policy because they share a similar political ideology or just want to keep their jobs. Supporting sanctuary policies can also be the path of least resistance for city officials too. Public officials can avoid the political protests and threats of expensive lawsuits by organizations like the ACLU that routinely follow any attempts by cities who try to stop illegal aliens from settling in their communities.

So Jeff Sessions will have to deal with several sanctuary city issues as US Attorney General: What defines a sanctuary city? Can a city be a sanctuary city if it hasn’t formalized a policy defying federal law? What will be the consequences of ignoring the federal law? If a city only states it has a sanctuary city policy but hasn’t enforced it, will it be liable?

From his first day in office, Mr. Sessions will have the power to strip some federal funding from sanctuary cities, thanks to rulings this year by the Justice Department’s inspector general, who said federal law requires localities to cooperate with immigration agents — and who provided an initial list of a handful of the worst offenders. Sessions, if confirmed, can also shape policy surrounding deportations:

Though the Department of Homeland Security sets enforcement priorities, the Department of Justice will play an important role in shaping these priorities in the early days of the administration. In addition, though the attorney general cannot order federal immigration judges to make certain findings, he can order Justice Department lawyers to appeal rulings that expand rights for illegal immigrants.

In that vein, Sessions can also push to bolster the ranks of the federal immigration courts, which are currently battling unprecedented backlogs.

Let’s wish Jeff Session much success. Stopping sanctuary cities won’t be an easy job.

There are 106 comments.

  1. I Shot The Serif Member

    It’s not just cities: my campus is planning to be a ‘sanctuary campus.’

    • #1
    • November 28, 2016, at 10:48 AM PST
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  2. James Gawron Thatcher

    Susan,

    You aren’t implying that Jeff Sessions will do something so jejune as enforce the law, are you? I mean really Susan that’s so 19th century. Why the next thing you’ll tell me is that the government is going to stop lying about health care and unemployment.

    Really Susan, I wasn’t born yesterday.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #2
    • November 28, 2016, at 10:52 AM PST
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  3. OccupantCDN Coolidge

    How do you impeach a mayor? Is there a process to remove lawless officials at a state or municipal level?

    • #3
    • November 28, 2016, at 10:54 AM PST
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  4. Mike H Coolidge

    I’d personally like to see cities defy federal law more often. Local governance, and all that. It almost certainly has to be a net positive with many consequences that Conservatives would approve of.

    • #4
    • November 28, 2016, at 11:01 AM PST
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  5. EJHill Podcaster

    I am usually loathe to suggestions that local authorities should be coerced into doing the federal government’s bidding by withholding funding but in this case I am willing to make an exception. And I do so primarily because control over immigration is one of the few things that should be the exclusive purview of the Feds.

    (I also hold the view that states should be able to sue over non-enforcement of said rules when they become a burden or safety issue to its citizens.)

    To make it truly effective, states with sanctuary cities should also be cut off.

    • #5
    • November 28, 2016, at 11:05 AM PST
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  6. Fred Cole Member

    Hooray for subsidiarity and local control. It’s one thing all conservatives seem to agree abou… Oh, wait. Guess that doesn’t apply here.

    • #6
    • November 28, 2016, at 11:10 AM PST
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  7. Trinity Waters Inactive

    Mike H:I’d personally like to see cities defy federal law more often. Local governance, and all that. It almost certainly has to be a net positive with many consequences that Conservatives would approve of.

    Great idea, Mike. Now, let’s talk about how you can help defray my considerable property taxes that are caused by a huge illegal contingent in my sanctuary city. Maybe your net positive can help reduce my net negative? Defiance has a price, and I’m tired of paying for defiance that takes my money. How about we just follow the law?

    • #7
    • November 28, 2016, at 11:10 AM PST
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  8. Trinity Waters Inactive

    Fred Cole:Hooray for subsidiarity and local control. It’s one thing all conservatives seem to agree abou… Oh, wait. Guess that doesn’t apply here.

    Certain instances of lawlessness are “conservative” in some fashion? The definition of what is conservative is sure malleable. Enforce the law, or if you personally don’t like it, then act to change the law, but don’t try to cover non-enforcement with the fig leaf of conservative ideology.

    I’m not sure I gleaned your true meaning from your comment. But maybe you could join Mike H in helping with my skyrocketing property tax bill?

    • #8
    • November 28, 2016, at 11:17 AM PST
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  9. Mike H Coolidge

    Trinity Waters:

    Mike H:I’d personally like to see cities defy federal law more often. Local governance, and all that. It almost certainly has to be a net positive with many consequences that Conservatives would approve of.

    Great idea, Mike. Now, let’s talk about how you can help defray my considerable property taxes that are caused by a huge illegal contingent in my sanctuary city. Maybe your net positive can help reduce my net negative? Defiance has a price, and I’m tired of paying for defiance that takes my money. How about we just follow the law?

    Because laws are often wrong and evil and effectively beyond the control of the citizenry and the safest course of action seems to be to allow the conscience of the people with the most local knowledge to decide this for themselves. The nice thing about local governance is it’s a lot easier to leave your city than it is to leave the country.

    • #9
    • November 28, 2016, at 11:19 AM PST
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  10. MarciN Member

    The paradox of this problem, to me at least, is that allowing unrestricted immigration “uses up” our humanitarian aid and good will. There are millions of refugees all over the world who truly need life-saving help, but we’re unable to help because we’ve exhausted our budgets on people who might fare better in their countries of origin anyway—that is, the Central American countries. I’d rather see us increase foreign aid with tougher strings attached to those countries while extending our hand to true refugees. Furthermore, by having a first-come-first-served approach to immigration, we’re splitting up impoverished families in Central America (that is the explanation for the high numbers of children crossing our border in search of their parents). And it encourages human trafficking, a horrific and growing global problem.

    And there’s one other major problem with any policy that encourages illegal immigration: We are a country that stands for justice, meaning that our government treats everyone equally. Law is supposed to ensure that the poor and weak have equal standing with the rich. Well, in granting unrestricted immigration, we’re actually favoring the rich (those who have the money to pay the “coyotes”) and the strong (those who have the physical strength and stamina to make the arduous trip). And what about the immigrants who are waiting years to attain legal status here and spending thousands of dollars?

    There are humanitarian reasons to better control our immigration procedures.

    • #10
    • November 28, 2016, at 11:22 AM PST
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  11. Mike H Coolidge

    MarciN: Law is supposed to ensure that the poor and weak have equal standing with the rich. Well, in granting unrestricted immigration, we’re actually favoring the rich (those who have the money to pay the “coyotes”) and the strong (those who have the physical strength and stamina to make the arduous trip).

    If we really had “unrestricted immigration” there wouldn’t need to be any coyotes.

    Why don’t we charge immigrants what the coyotes charge if they want to immigrate legally and put them out of business? I bet we could even charge quite a bit more for eliminating the risks of doing it the black market way.

    • #11
    • November 28, 2016, at 11:29 AM PST
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  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    I Shot The Serif:It’s not just cities: my campus is planning to be a ‘sanctuary campus.’

    So can you tell us a little about what they will be doing? Then again, I’m not sure I want to know.

    • #12
    • November 28, 2016, at 11:34 AM PST
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  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    James Gawron:Susan,

    You aren’t implying that Jeff Sessions will do something so jejune as enforce the law, are you? I mean really Susan that’s so 19th century. Why the next thing you’ll tell me is that the government is going to stop lying about health care and unemployment.

    Really Susan, I wasn’t born yesterday.

    Regards,

    Jim

    I’m laughing too hard to give you a comeback. Oh (clear my throat), how dare you accuse me of being jejune!!

    • #13
    • November 28, 2016, at 11:35 AM PST
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  14. EJHill Podcaster

    Fred Cole: Hooray for subsidiarity and local control. It’s one thing all conservatives seem to agree abou… Oh, wait. Guess that doesn’t apply here.

    Pedro Espinoza is a known LA gang member and Mexican National. In February of 2008 he was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon and instead of being held for deportation he was released back into the general population on March 1. The next day, he brutally murdered 17-year old Jamiel “Jas” Shaw just a few doors down from his home.

    I highlight this case because it’s a pre-Obama problem. Espinoza was released because “Progressives” in Southern California play identity politics as well as anyone. Make no notice that the victim was a young black man.

    But hey! Local control! Open borders! Libertarians and progressives unite!

    • #14
    • November 28, 2016, at 11:36 AM PST
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  15. billy Inactive

    Fred Cole:Hooray for subsidiarity and local control. It’s one thing all conservatives seem to agree abou… Oh, wait. Guess that doesn’t apply here.

    So you are a neo-Confederate now?

    States and municipalities can nullify Federal laws of their choosing.

    James Calhoun is smiling.

    • #15
    • November 28, 2016, at 11:36 AM PST
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  16. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Mike H:I’d personally like to see cities defy federal law more often. Local governance, and all that. It almost certainly has to be a net positive with many consequences that Conservatives would approve of.

    Point taken, Mike. I think you’d agree that this type of defiance has worn out its welcome, wouldn’t you?

    • #16
    • November 28, 2016, at 11:36 AM PST
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  17. I Shot The Serif Member

    Susan Quinn: So can you tell us a little about what they will be doing? Then again, I’m not sure I want to know.

    Apparently, they are not yet sure what the term means, but are working with other campuses to figure it out.

    • #17
    • November 28, 2016, at 11:37 AM PST
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  18. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    EJHill: To make it truly effective, states with sanctuary cities should also be cut off.

    Oooh, I like it! I’m not crazy about cutting off funds either, EJ, but the power of the purse could have constructive results.

    • #18
    • November 28, 2016, at 11:37 AM PST
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  19. Fred Cole Member

    Trinity Waters:Certain instances of lawlessness are “conservative” in some fashion? The definition of what is conservative is sure malleable. Enforce the law, or if you personally don’t like it, then act to change the law, but don’t try to cover non-enforcement with the fig leaf of conservative ideology.

    I’m not sure I gleaned your true meaning from your comment. But maybe you could join Mike H in helping with my skyrocketing property tax bill?

    I don’t know as it counts as “lawlessness” when we’re talking about local laws. I would argue that if you concern is rule-of-law, it’s our impractical and unworkable immigration system that erodes respect for the law and encourages lawlessness.

    And I have my own skyrocketing property tax bill. I’m not going to blame it on illegal immigrants though. There’s plenty of American-born parasites that I’m forced to pay for.

    • #19
    • November 28, 2016, at 11:39 AM PST
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  20. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Mike H: Because laws are often wrong and evil and effectively beyond the control of the citizenry and the safest course of action seems to be to allow the conscience of the people with the most local knowledge to decide this for themselves

    I guess I’ve seen too much local lawlessness and violence by the Left to be very supportive of your suggestion, Mike.

    • #20
    • November 28, 2016, at 11:40 AM PST
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  21. Fred Cole Member

    billy:So you are a neo-Confederate now?

    States and municipalities can nullify Federal laws of their choosing.

    James Calhoun is smiling.

    That’s not a label I want anything to do with.

    But I hear conservatives talk all the times about the glories of federalism and how great subsidiarity is. And here we have an application of those principles, and now I see conservatives quick to bring down the hammer of the federal government on local governments for doing just that.

    And I’m sure we’ll see it again when Session starts cracking down on states with legal pot.

    • #21
    • November 28, 2016, at 11:44 AM PST
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  22. Chuck Enfield Coolidge

    This should be a lesson to the congress. If you’re going to pass a law that requires people, organizations, or institutions to do something, that law must include some consequences for not doing that thing. As near as I can tell from skimming the conference report, the IIRIRA doesn’t include any penalties if state and local governments decline to cooperate.

    • #22
    • November 28, 2016, at 11:50 AM PST
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  23. NYLibertarianGuy Coolidge

    One question for those suggesting “sanctuary” local governments are violating federal law: What provision of the Constitution permits the federal government to compel state officials to enforce federal immigration law?

    The Supreme Court clearly held in Printz v. United States that “[t]he Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States’ officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program.” 521 U.S. 898, 935 (1997). And in NFIB v. Sebelius, the Supreme Court strongly suggested that the federal government may not use its “Spending Clause” authority to circumvent the restrictions recognized in Printz and other cases. See 132 S. Ct. 2566, at 2602-03 (“Spending Clause programs do not pose this danger when a State has a legitimate choice whether to accept the federal conditions in exchange for federal funds. In such a situation, state officials can fairly be held politically accountable for choosing to accept or refuse the federal offer. But when the State has no choice, the Federal Government can achieve its objectives without accountability, just as in New York and Printz. Indeed, this danger is heightened when Congress acts under the Spending Clause, because Congress can use that power to implement federal policy it could not impose directly under its enumerated powers.”).

    I suppose Constitutional “niceties” like dual sovereignty are no longer entitled to respect now that the so-called “Republicans” are in power.

    • #23
    • November 28, 2016, at 11:55 AM PST
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  24. NYLibertarianGuy Coolidge

    Chuck Enfield:This should be a lesson to the congress. If you’re going to pass a law that requires people, organizations, or institutions to do something, that law must include some consequences for not doing that thing. As near as I can tell from skimming the conference report, the IIRIRA doesn’t include any penalties if state and local governments decline to cooperate.

    Such “penalties” would be unconstitutional.

    • #24
    • November 28, 2016, at 11:56 AM PST
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  25. NYLibertarianGuy Coolidge

    billy:

    Fred Cole:Hooray for subsidiarity and local control. It’s one thing all conservatives seem to agree abou… Oh, wait. Guess that doesn’t apply here.

    So you are a neo-Confederate now?

    States and municipalities can nullify Federal laws of their choosing.

    James Calhoun is smiling.

    Local governments cannot nullify federal law, but they cannot be forced to do the federal government’s enforcement work for it either. (Unless state law requires them to comply, of course.)

    • #25
    • November 28, 2016, at 11:58 AM PST
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  26. She Thatcher
    She

    Fred Cole:

    billy:So you are a neo-Confederate now?

    States and municipalities can nullify Federal laws of their choosing.

    James Calhoun is smiling.

    That’s not a label I want anything to do with.

    But I hear conservatives talk all the times about the glories of federalism and how great subsidiarity is. And here we have an application of those principles, and now I see conservatives quick to bring down the hammer of the federal government on local governments for doing just that.

    Are these cities not violating federal law, though? It’s all very well to talk about how great subsidiarity is, but I think there’s an overarching law, maybe passed during Bill Clinton’s tenure, that requires states and other localities to cooperate with federal immigration authorities with regard to enforcing immigration law.

    So, if disobeying federal law is an acceptable standard, then I guess what these cities are doing is OK.

    But if it’s not, and one thinks that subsidiarity and local control should pertain to an entity’s treatment of those who are within its borders illegally, then it seems to me that one should work to change the law.

    It strikes me as particularly unsavory in this instance that the entity insisting that disobeying federal law is an acceptable standard is the federal government itself. And it does make me wonder why, for example, colleges get themselves tied up in a knot over what they have to do to comply with Title IX in order to keep their federal funding. Let subsidiarity rule, I say! Tell the feds to buzz off!

    Or am I missing something?

    • #26
    • November 28, 2016, at 12:03 PM PST
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  27. Stina Inactive

    Fred Cole:

    billy:So you are a neo-Confederate now?

    States and municipalities can nullify Federal laws of their choosing.

    James Calhoun is smiling.

    That’s not a label I want anything to do with.

    But I hear conservatives talk all the times about the glories of federalism and how great subsidiarity is. And here we have an application of those principles, and now I see conservatives quick to bring down the hammer of the federal government on local governments for doing just that.

    And I’m sure we’ll see it again when Session starts cracking down on states with legal pot.

    Federalists believe there is a limited role for central government. Not no role. We abandoned the Articles of Confederation for more central government, not less.

    Now one of these roles is national defense and security. Immigration falls in this category.

    So for constitutional conservatives and even minarchists to be ok with government enforcing immigration laws does not require inconsistency.

    • #27
    • November 28, 2016, at 12:08 PM PST
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  28. Chuck Enfield Coolidge

    Fred Cole:

    billy:So you are a neo-Confederate now?

    States and municipalities can nullify Federal laws of their choosing.

    James Calhoun is smiling.

    That’s not a label I want anything to do with.

    Nor is it one you deserve.

    But I hear conservatives talk all the times about the glories of federalism and how great subsidiarity is. And here we have an application of those principles, and now I see conservatives quick to bring down the hammer of the federal government on local governments for doing just that.

    I’m with you in the general case, but I think it’s different when it comes to certain aspects of law enforcement. If, for example, local police in AZ detain somebody with an outstanding arrest warrant in NM, I think they should be required to hold them for extradition. The immigration case is not exactly the same, but it’s not without similarity.

    And I’m sure we’ll see it again when Session starts cracking down on states with legal pot.

    Individual states cannot make legal what is illegal in the United States. They need not enforce the federal law, but by passing legislation to regulate and tax the illegal activity they are complicit in the criminal enterprise. If I were POTUS (no need to worry about that) I would take enforcement action against the affected states.

    That said, I see no basis under the constitution for federal bans on any drugs. Unfortunately, there’s volumes of precedent indicating I am wrong about that. As POTUS, once I had the rogue states back in line, I would push to repeal blanket federal bans on drugs, and establish importation policies (the federal role in this) to reflect the policies in the individual states. For example, a bunch of states will legalize pot, so no import ban. If no states legalize heroine, then imports would continue to be banned.

    • #28
    • November 28, 2016, at 12:09 PM PST
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  29. NYLibertarianGuy Coolidge

    CM:Federalists believe there is a limited role for central government. Not no role. We abandoned the Articles of Confederation for more central government, not less.

    Now one of these roles is national defense and security. Immigration falls in this category.

    So for constitutional conservatives and even minarchists to be ok with government enforcing immigration laws does not require inconsistency.

    Setting aside the complicated history that led to the federal government’s current presumed authority to regulate immigration (which does not appear in the Constitution), the present issue is not whether the federal government can enforce immigration law against illegal immigrants. The issue is whether the federal government can force state governments to enforce federal immigration law. Different question entirely, from a legal standpoint.

    • #29
    • November 28, 2016, at 12:11 PM PST
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  30. Arthur Beare Member

    I really don’t wish to exhibit my naiveté here, but, for those who have sanctuary laws on the books, I’d think that criminal prosecution of those who signed such statutes for violation of the federal law would cool the ardor of the pro-sanctuary crowd.

    • #30
    • November 28, 2016, at 12:11 PM PST
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