September 21, 2018
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I hope Democrats defend sanctuary cities — it’s bad policy, and it’ll cost them

Ben Margot | AP
Ben Margot | AP
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf gestures while speaking during a media conference on Wednesday in Oakland, California.
By Ed Rogers, The Washington Post

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Trump administration are going about the sanctuary city issue in the right way. The very idea of so-called sanctuary cities is offensive to a lot of law-abiding Americans. Taking action against the liberal politicians who want to give safe harbor to illegal immigrants is a slow, easy pitch from the Democrats, and Republicans everywhere should take advantage.

The Justice Department is now challenging several laws in California that not only interfere with the nation’s immigration policies, but also place American citizens and law enforcement personnel at risk. The idea that laws can be ignored and that state and local politicians can affirmatively warn lawbreakers of how to escape apprehension is incredible. It is indefensible. We either have laws, or we don’t. And if our elected leaders don’t want to uphold the law, they can either change them or resign. The law is not optional once you have made a pledge to uphold the duties of your office.

Open-border radicals in California and other liberal strongholds must be held accountable. Of course, liberals would have you believe that they are only interested in protecting the poor, the oppressed and the hardworking who have nowhere else to go. But in many cases, their actions allow dangerous and sometimes repeat criminals to be shielded from deportation or prison. In California, good Samaritans who value the rule of law are even prohibited from voluntarily cooperating with federal immigration officials who are trying to uphold the law and make communities safer.

Anyway, Democrats and their allies in the media will say otherwise, but nothing about this conversation is even in the slightest bit hyperbolic. Local politicians are actually warning illegal immigrants of impending enforcement actions. In Oakland, Mayor Libby Schaaf went so far as to issue a press release and accompanying tweet alerting illegal immigrants in the Bay Area of an impending Immigration and Customs Enforcement operation last month. According to ICE Deputy Director Thomas D. Homan, what the Oakland mayor did “is no better than a gang lookout yelling ‘police’ when a police cruiser comes in the neighborhood.”

The fact that a politician who presumably swore to uphold the Constitution could feel so emboldened to undermine an active law enforcement operation and place those officers in harm’s way cannot go unanswered. And according to what Sessions said on Wednesday, it won’t. Specifically, speaking before the California Peace Officers’ Association, Sessions said: “We are going to fight these irrational, unfair, and unconstitutional policies that have been imposed on you and our federal officers. We are fighting to make your jobs safer and to help you reduce crime in America. We are fighting to have a lawful system of immigration that serves Americans. And we intend to win.” Well said.

Republicans can only hope that liberals running in 2018 will make an issue of the Justice Department lawsuit. After all, do Democrats really want to be on the side of shielding illegal immigrants — many of whom have outstanding warrants and criminal records? When the Oakland mayor alerted an entire community of illegal immigrant criminals that ICE was coming, she reportedly allowed about 800 to escape. According to ICE officials, almost half of those who were arrested “had prior felony convictions for serious or violent offenses, such as child sex crimes, weapons charges and assault, or had past convictions for significant or multiple misdemeanors.”

Are those really the people Democrats want to defend? I hope so. I can already see the campaign ads that Republicans will be running. The Democrats’ position on sanctuary cities will not play well in flyover America.

Last month, plenty of Democrats and liberal outlets pushed the idea that somehow, in some bizarre twist of reality, Republicans had split with law enforcement and were no longer the party of law and order. The Huffington Post even pronounced that Republicans had “unleashed an extraordinary attack on law enforcement” by criticizing a few senior FBI officials. With the Democrats’ position on sanctuary cities, that argument should not be too difficult to dismiss.

Anyone who supports illegal aliens and opposes law enforcement’s efforts to protect communities from criminals should be shown no quarter — not in the media, not in the courtroom and not in our political campaigns. In the case of the administration’s policy on sanctuary cities, good policy is also the best politics.

Ed Rogers is a political consultant and a veteran of the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush White Houses and several national campaigns.

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