Author’s note April 23, 2017: Five years after this was published Chicago is still proud to be one of our nation’s sanctuary cities, but big changes in Justice Department policy will soon pit illegals against federal funding. Compliance letters sent April 21, 2017 (see update below) set the stage for a summer showdown.
We keep hearing that Chicago’s public school system is out of money. That didn’t stop a recent thumbs up vote for a strike by the Chicago Teachers Union. Illinois is short on cash, too. That’s something unions should keep in mind when they get the itch to barter for the pay and benefits of public employees. Chicago is joining the state in finding out that there are fewer and fewer things left on which to levy fees and taxes. Fortunately for illegal immigrants, being short on cash does not deter Chicago’s determination to remain one of America’s sanctuary cities.
Sanctuary city Chicago welcomes with new ordinance
Chicago emphasized its sanctuary city status this week. Mayor Rahm Emanuel came out in support of a “Welcome City Ordinance” to cement Chicago’s reputation as a city that doesn’t care about the immigration status of its residents.
Dreaming up another ordinance to stress that the city welcomes illegals is a pointless PR exercise. Chicago stopped worrying about immigration long ago and has been a sanctuary city since the days of Mayor Harold Washington. The president and Homeland Security have already made it clear that the undocumented who have not committed a crime will be left in peace. Since Barack Obama has no interest in deterring non-criminal illegals, announcing a new ordinance to do more of the same rubs our noses in the city’s refusal to follow the law.
Blaming our troubles with illegals on the lack of a “reliable and responsive legal immigration system,”¹ Congressman Luis Gutierrez let us know that:
Too many individuals are faced with the impossible choice of abandoning their families or going around our legal system because they can find no way through it to meet their responsibilities as spouses and parents. And we give almost no opportunity to immigrants here illegally to take any action that would allow them to earn legal status.²
Of course, those individuals had the option to not cross our border in the first place. They can leave or get in line with everyone else, but when legality and political agenda bump heads the law tends to lose. Gutierrez wants our legal system to protect illegal immigrants and ensure their rights are respected until that system can be overhauled to accommodate the demands of a huge source of Democratic support. In the meantime, we have sanctuary cities.
Being on the sanctuary cities list does not mean you have money
California cities are well represented on the sanctuary cities list. Like Illinois, California is broke. Washington D.C. is also on the list, which is ironically appropriate. New York is no stranger to destitution, budget problems, and the importance of being a sanctuary city. If America keeps swallowing the pro-amnesty gibberish the president and his acolytes are spouting, the number of sanctuary cities will undoubtedly grow.
Does being a sanctuary city and being broke mean that illegals run up enormous tabs for public services on the taxpayer dime? No, but they do chew up more in services than they pay in tax dollars. As a welcoming city, Chicago wants to make sure that illegals seeking services are left alone.
Thinking of moving? You might want to check a list of sanctuary cities. This is a symbol of irresponsible government and lack of respect for public money. Whether your new town favors illegals will tell you a lot about how your tax dollars will be treated. It’s also a good gauge of how much you will be paying for liberal permissiveness in the years to come.
UPDATE November 16, 2016: Trump to take over
A Republican president is about to join a GOP Congress after eight years of liberal immigration enforcement. Emanuel’s insistence on maintaining sanctuary city status for Chicago is once again in the news.3 His stance creates a predicament for Democrats. How do you justify federal control of party favorites like health care while denying Washington’s right to enforce laws that are solely within its purview? Obama and the Justice Department used the argument of federal hegemony against states who wanted to enforce their own laws to protect taxpayers from illegals. It can’t work both ways. This is a prime opportunity for a GOP-dominated Washington to use the same strategy against cities that insist on ignoring our laws.
UPDATE January 25, 2017: Early warning
Which is worth more, offering sanctuary to illegals or being handed federal grant money? That’s a question mayors like Rahm Emanuel need to answer after President Trump put pen to paper today to start cracking down on sanctuary cities. Going to bat for illegals is a foolhardy decision when you are already broke and could lose your federal handouts. Canceling federal grants won’t exactly be a boon to big city taxpayers, either.
UPDATE March 28, 2017: Sessions serious about sanctuaries
It’s wonderful to finally have an attorney general who understands that “illegal” applies to more than police officers. Yesterday Jeff Sessions renewed his insistence that sanctuary cities comply with immigration law. He focused on keeping people safe and that’s a good thing. The bonus we haven’t heard a lot about is that by cutting federal funds we don’t force taxpayers in responsible cities and states to pay for illegal immigrant sanctuaries with their federal tax dollars. If Chicago and other cities want to harbor illegals, they can do it on their own dime.
UPDATE April 23, 2017: 8 U.S.C. § 1373 letters go out
On April 21, 2017 the Justice Department sent letters to nine cities to put them on notice of their obligations under 8 U.S.C. § 1373. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson was one of the recipients. The DOJ press release pointed out:
The number of murders in Chicago has skyrocketed, rising more than 50 percent from the 2015 levels.4
The move advances the Trump administration’s threat to withhold funding from illegal immigrant sanctuaries because of their refusal to comply with federal law. Rahm Emanuel remains a stalwart supporter of the illegals in his city. The letter set a June 30, 2017 compliance deadline.
UPDATE May 30, 2017: Texas SB4 poses a disturbing question
Immigration enforcement took a nasty turn in Texas yesterday over Senate Bill 4, which cracks down on sanctuary policies and levies penalties for refusing to follow federal immigration law. The mass protest shows what happens when party politics convinces people that the law doesn’t matter.
It also raises a disturbing question: at what point do sheer numbers and the threat of mass protest make the law irrelevant? Do we need to step up deportations now to deal with the threat of foreign nationals who come here, refuse to obey the law, and then threaten us if we don’t give them what they want?
UPDATE September 16, 2017: judge bests Sessions so everyone has to pay
A federal judge stood in the way of Texas’ SB 4 and now another judge in the Northern District of Illinois stomped Jeff Sessions’ plans to withhold federal grants from sanctuary cities. Judge Harry Leinenweber’s ruling yesterday means that if you live in a responsible city and state that doesn’t condone illegal immigration with sanctuary policies your federal tax money can still flow to safe havens like Chicago.
No matter the legalities of the judge’s decision, we just sent another message that our laws don’t matter. We will overlook whatever laws and regulations activists find fault with. Illinois is not a big enforcement loss. Republican Governor Bruce Rauner has already signed a bill that effectively made Illinois a sanctuary state. The real tragedy is that the courts can force every taxpayer in America to fund this kind of irresponsible governing with federal tax revenue.