Sanctuary Cities: More Than Just Turning a Blind Eye

The recent election opened a lot of different discussions concerning a lot of different topics, including the issue of Sanctuary Cities.  Many Americans fail to understand exactly what this issue means or how it can impact them or their loved ones. The only way to make an informed decision on the topic is to be informed.

The first thing you need to understand is what a sanctuary city is. At one time it was rather simple – local officials decided not to inquire into the immigration status of residents wishing to take advantage of basic services. Sometimes this meant not checking on status when someone enrolled their children in public school or family members showed up at the ER, but most often it involved victims of crime and their interaction with law enforcement.  One this basic level, I had little problem with the idea of turning a blind eye. Doing otherwise would jeopardize investigations and was similar to cutting off your nose to spite your face.

immigrant-protestHowever, today’s definition has grown far beyond that original basically harmless concept. Now we have local government authorities ordering police to ignore immigration status regardless of the circumstances. Looking the other way is no longer limited to victims or witnesses – now it includes suspects and prisoners. Plus, not only are these local authorities failing to inquire about immigration status, many are also refusing to notify federal authorities when an illegal alien is in custody, even if that individual is the subject of a federal warrant or detainer.

So, why should this be a big deal? Why should the average citizen be worried? Simple, this expanded version of sanctuary cities means these communities are not just a safe zone, they are a potential war zone. Under the old system, it was otherwise law abiding residents, who happened to have entered the country illegally, who benefited. Now there is the potential for hardened criminals, those who no one wants in their community, to benefit.

What happens when local authorities fail to report criminals who are also the subject of immigration warrants? The best case scenario is those criminals eventually re-enter the community – maybe they re-offend, maybe they don’t. Worst case scenario means other criminals who are also here illegally start to migrate to these sanctuary cities, overwhelming the criminal justice system with no fear of ever being deported. But there are also underlying consequences, those unseen by the public – the breakdown of interagency cooperation.

Without interagency cooperation, a modern criminal justice system, based on the seamless sharing of information and resources, backtracks decades. If federal agencies cannot depend on local officials to share information when it benefits the federal agenda, they will soon stop sharing information themselves as well. It may not be condoned, or even done on a conscious level, but it will happen. When it does, the local agency will find itself isolated, without the benefit of the intelligence or resources when a true emergency occurs. This was one of the biggest negatives identified in the post-9/11 review, and no one wants to be at the helm if it happens again in their community.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell
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