Immigration

Hillary's Dirty Dance with Trump on Sanctuary Cities

She was right the first time when she opposed a federal crackdown on these cities

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On immigration, Republicans long ago sold their souls and humanity for political gain. But in the wake of the recent shooting death of a 31-year-old California woman by an undocumented Mexican worker in San Francisco, it's become obvious that Democrats are really no different.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton could have used the tragedy

Hillary Dirty Dancing
JeepersMedia / Foter / CC BY

as a teachable moment about the insanity that is America's immigration system. Instead, they have thrown San Francisco's sanctuary polices, which help shield illegal immigrants from massively unfair federal policies, under the bus faster than anyone could say "adios."

Anti-immigration hysterics on the right are spinning this rather bizarre episode involving a rather bizarre man (who says he was under the influence of sleeping pills that he found in a dumpster when he shot the woman—with a gun he found on a bench wrapped in a T-shirt—thinking he was shooting sea lions!) as a simple morality tale against so-called sanctuary cities that are thwarting federal efforts to deport dangerous criminals. In conservatives' telling, the alleged shooter in this case, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, was a convicted felon whom San Francisco knowingly released on the streets to thumb its nose at Uncle Sam's request to detain him. Donald Trump, who jumped on the incident as a vindication of his ugly comments that Mexicans coming to America were rapists and criminals, taunted other candidates on Twitter, asking them where they were "now that this tragic murder has taken place b/c of our unsafe border."

This is a horrible caricature of a tragic situation. Far more depressing, however, is that Feinstein and Clinton should take the bait.

Feinstein, who has long posed as a friend of immigration and Latinos, denounced San Francisco, and scolded it to join the federal Priority Enforcement Program—apparently unaware of the fact that San Francisco has joined this program for the simple reason that it is mandatory. And Clinton, who during her previous presidential run had strongly (and rightly) condemned a federal crackdown on sanctuary cities such as San Francisco, has now declared that she has "absolutely no support" for a city that defies federal deportation rules.

This whole characterization is nonsense. The notion that a city would willfully release a dangerous felon—citizen or immigrant, legal, or illegal—simply to spite Uncle Sam is totally ludicrous. So what exactly did happen?

There is no doubt that Sanchez-Lopez is a serial border jumper who was convicted several times for illegal entry into the United States and a few times for drug possession. He was imprisoned on multiple occasions—sometimes for years—and at the end of his term, deported, only to hop back over again. But he had no convictions for any violent crimes. Most recently, he served a sentence in a California federal prison for unlawful entry, and then was handed over to the San Francisco sheriff for an old warrant for marijuana possession and sale. He was soon released, in part because ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) issued an unconstitutional detention request to the sheriff, and not a warrant, as required by local law, notes Chris Newman, legal director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

Conservatives—and now leading Democrats—are demagogically pinning the blame on this "sanctuary" policy. That's simply inaccurate. But more important, it glosses over the enormous problems with federal immigration policy.

The first sanctuary policy arose during the 1980s, when churches offered refuge to people fleeing violence from Central America who were having trouble obtaining asylum. In recent years, about 200 cities have resorted to them to protect their residents from illicit federal demands.

For example, under the Bush administration's SECURE communities program—which the Obama administration was forced to reform and roll into PEP—local authorities were not only required to share biometric information with ICE regarding everyone—citizen and immigrant—booked for even minor infractions, but then detain them till ICE issued a ruling whether they were in the country legally or not. This meant that citizens and legal residents brought in for anything ended up effectively under arrest without probable cause or a warrant or a criminal conviction, often for periods of time longer than warranted by the infraction for which they were brought in.

Federal courts have repeatedly ruled that such detentions are an unconstitutional violation of due process rights. But that is not their only problem. They warp local enforcement priorities, forcing municipalities to detain and hold peaceful undocumented workers who pose no threat to anyone. Equally reprehensible, they pit local police departments against their own communities, especially in Latino-dominated neighborhoods. Numerous times, undocumented immigrants who showed up at police departments to report serious crimes like theft and rape have themselves ended up getting detained and deported, breeding fear and suspicion among Latinos, many of whom stopped cooperating with local police in apprehending genuinely dangerous drug cartel or gang members.

Admittedly, sanctuary policies try and strike a fine balance between protecting the constitutionally guaranteed rights of citizens and immigrants and the needs of law enforcement. But cities would have no need to walk this tightrope if Congress would just fix the broken immigration system, legalize the existing unauthorized population, and stanch the stream of future illegal immigrants by creating a workable guest worker program with Mexico. If the vast majority of these workers could work and live in the country legally, it would make it much, much easier to deal with the Sanchez-Lopezes of the world.

But instead of using this tragic act by a disturbed man to expose these broader problems, Feinstein and Clinton jumped on the Donald Trump bandwagon to demagogue the issue. It is bad enough that this man's vitriol is ruining the Republican Party. That it is also poisoning Democrats on this issue is downright deplorable.

 This column originally appeared in The Week.

NEXT: Judge Kozinski on wrongful convictions and excessively long sentences

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  1. Is Reason trying to make sure that no one EVER votes for a Libertarian? Maybe they really believe open borders would be a good thing, but I’m more inclined to believe that they are just using the issue to separate themselves from conservatives so they can still get invited to the “cool” parties.

    1. No more than 1.5% of voter will probably ever vote for Libertarians regardless of their policy stances, so I don’t think there’s a real need to worry. And even if an idea is popular, that’s not a reason to support it. I also don’t think it’s necessary to accuse Reason writers of arguing in bad faith.

      1. *1.5% of voters…

      2. Can we accuse them of arguing badly? I’m fatigued by the Millenial papfest.

        1. I think accusing them of arguing badly is perfectly fine since it’s constructive if there’s a rationale provided for it. I only wanted to point out that supporting things based on popularity and attributing bad intent doesn’t actually address the accuracy of the arguments made and doesn’t really get anywhere.

        2. Millennial Papfest?

          is that where a huge group of millennial women all getting synchronized pap-smears?

    2. Open borders doesn’t mean anything goes. You have an open border so immigrants can come through the front door where they can get immunized and wait for a background check, rather than encouraging them to climb through the bedroom window undetected.

      1. The Hobbit is right. I am 100% open borders, I think that anyone who wants to come here, abide by the laws, (attempt to) get a job, and pay taxes should be allowed to do so. But that doesn’t mean we can’t force immunization, do background checks, send them away (and really away, just just a bus ride 2 miles over the border) when there are problems. And a LOT of republicans, I have found, agree with this stance.

        1. So if 200 million Chinese decide they want to immigrate here and turn the US into “Little China”, you’d be OK with that? If the entire population of Mexico headed across the border, you’d be OK with that? Personally, I kinda like the fact that we’re not a third-world shithole, and I’d like to keep it that way.

      2. And the immigrants pay in advance for these immunizations, right? And they pay a fee which supports the cost of that background check system and the immigration infrastructure, right? And pay for a quick physical to make sure they’re not bringing in some dread disease or other right? Those things would be reasonable. If I’m paying for all this stuff so Jose and Abdul can come to America, then fuck that. If they’re covering the cost of their immigration, we can talk. I’ll bet most people share that attitude. If immigrants help grow the economy and that supports the added schools, hospital services, etc. it takes to serve the new population, fine. If all they do is come across and get in line to suckle on the government teat, then I’ll not support adding them. THAT’S the problem. You have to separate the cost of adding citizens and make sure you’re adding the appropriate revenue to offset the costs. I know in a libertarian utopia, we’d all take care of ourselves, but that’s not where we are.

      3. Actually that’s exactly what “open borders” means. Your take is remarkably naive. We already have a legal process and “front door”.

        1. Yeah, it’s a legal process, but it’s absurd. We don’t even allow guest workers for agricultural jobs. And we put a ceiling of 7% on immigrants from any one country, completely ignoring it’s economic and social ties to the US. That is completely insane.

          “….the INA also places a limit on how many immigrants can come to the United States from any one country. Currently, no group of permanent immigrants (family-based and employment-based) from a single country can exceed 7%”

          http://www.immigrationpolicy.o…..fact-sheet

          1. (Completely ignoring it’s population size to. So tiny Singapore has the same cap as Canada. Please explain why that is good policy.)

    3. Not open borders. A guest worker program to satisfy the very, very real demand for low skilled labor in the US.

      Like the “drug war”, it insane to criminalize somethings for which there is huge economic demand.

    4. I would be more inclined to believe that they are presenting the issue and ideas based on solid libertarian principles. If you accept that government is evil – a demonstrable, historical fact – and that the only proper role for government that would insure that it does the least amount of damage is to provide redress for the initiation of force by an individual or group against another individual or group, then enactment of any law that restricts the free movement of sovereign individuals and free association of sovereign individual, would be forbidden to the government.

      Of course, our founders tried to bind the power of the state, by enumerating very specific things that the government was allowed to do. They then stated that anything not specifically permitted was forbidden. We all know how that turned out.

      For a simple and crystal clear example, look at any of the amendments.
      “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED.” (emphasis added). It didn’t say “…of a certain class of people…” or “…shall not be infringed EXCEPT…).

      This LAW was supposed to bind the state, because our founders KNEW that only an armed citizenry, ready and willing to repeat the actions of those same founders, could prevent a return to tyranny.

  2. Republicans sold their soles to the devil and the broker was the democrats, the media and this idiot Dalma

    1. Sold their soles to the devil? Was the devil in need of new shoes? I wish I could sell my soles too, extra cash is always handy and who needs old shoes, right? 🙂

      1. The Devil went down the Georgia, he was lookin’ for some really wild kicks…

    2. Yep. Republicans are now running around barefoot.

  3. Perhaps the author would like to do away with central govt, too. That would certainly stem the tide of immigration, since it’s clear these folks aren’t coming here to work, but collect welfare. And the Dems would love to start up machine politics again.

    1. Donald Trump is an asshole! If Wiki entry for “asshole” does NOT say “The Donald”, then it sure as hell should!

  4. Shikha is deflecting an aspect of sanctuary policies that failed by illustrating other aspects that were problematic in the past.

    The man was deported five times in the past and returned to SF seeking shelter from it’s sanctuary policies. The feds sought notification from the local police when he was released, but the sheriff refused cooperation citing city law that required a warrant of that kind of action. Which doesn’t exist, according to ICE –

    http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/10/…..o-killing/

    “The sheriff’s assertion that ICE is required to provide some form of ‘judicial’ order in order to receive the requested notification reflects a manifest misunderstanding of federal immigration law,” a senior ICE official said. “There is no such document, nor is there any federal court with the authority to issue one. Neither is there a legal requirement that ICE provide a judicial warrant to law enforcement agencies in order to receive such notifications.”

    This has nothing to do with forced detention or illegals risking deportation for reporting crimes. This is a sequel to the Boston bombing case – the government WILLFULLY not taking actions to address a known risk.

    You can’t reflexively blame “immigration policy” for every immigration related fiasco. The workers abused at nail salons won’t rocket to middle class status if they were given citizenships the day after the expose. America allows gray areas to exist in immigration, which is why problems like this happen.

  5. Instead, they have thrown San Francisco’s sanctuary polices, which help shield illegal immigrants from massively unfair federal policies, under the bus faster than anyone could say “adios.”

    So illegal immigrants are all Latino?

    And shouldn’t that be Illegal Immigrant-Americans?

  6. So The Donald and Hillary-Bob are “dirty dancing” now?

    I sure as hell hope that they do NOT have a love-child, because if they do, I will die in my own sickened barf!!!

  7. So The Donald and Hillary-Bob are “dirty dancing” now?

    I sure as hell hope that they do NOT have a love-child, because if they do, I will die in my own sickened barf!!!

  8. I sense that Hillary is dangerously close to losing Shikha’s vote.

  9. Here in California we have large numbers of illegal immigrants. We also have some of the toughest gun control laws in the country, high taxes, censorship on campus, de facto affirmative action, attacks on Proposition 13, and etc. So how come if unrestricted immigration is so good for liberty, we are seeing more big government?

    Does Reason have some problem in understanding that 2 + 2 = 4?

  10. So, in other words, Team Red is exploiting a tragedy in San Francisco in the same way Team Blue recently exploited a tragedy in Charleston. Is anyone surprised?

  11. This article is nonsense. It appears to me that Reason has lost all reason.

    1. When they let this idiot open-borders “writer” put her crap online, yes they have.

  12. How about we adopt the same immigration laws for Mexicans, as Mexico has for Americans? That would be fair, right? And fuck this “undocumented immigrant ” bullshit. It’s intentional obfuscation. We have immigration laws, and if you enter the county illegally, or overstay your visa, you are an illegal immigrant.

    1. “It’s intentional obfuscation. We have immigration laws, and if you enter the county illegally, or overstay your visa, you are a Criminal Trespasser.”

      FIFY

  13. Number 2|7.15.15 @ 7:51PM|#

    “So, in other words, Team Red is exploiting a tragedy in San Francisco in the same way Team Blue recently exploited a tragedy in Charleston.”

    No, team red is actually addressing the cause of a problem. You know, the one where the ungrateful Criminal Trespasser kills an unsuspecting host. Team blue wants to get rid of a flag. I’m pretty sure that a flag was not the cause or even a symptom. Are you that intellectually handicapped or just that disingenuous?

    1. So, ULOST, what “cause of the problem” specifically is “Team Red” trying to address? As statistics show, “illegal” immigrants are far less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans. Which only makes sense if you realize that a prime motivation is to stay under the radar.

      Did you even READ the article? Would you care to offer solid arguments to counter the arguments and statistics presented by the author?

      Or is that just too much work, not possible, or simply doesn’t fit your prejudices?

  14. guess trump thinks he has the conservative vote rapped up – but he’s just doing what graham, christie and bush couldn’t do – we know they’re sell outs
    pull another george w. bush….while the propagandists would argue some credibility for bush jr. – they’re called propagandists for a reason.

    i will not vote for anyone other than rand paul or ted cruz period.
    when anyone agrees with the clintons at this point in the game – there’s a problem.
    for me, we are not against immigration, were against illegal immigration for political exploitation by a bunch of career parasites, we want the borders secure and no blanket amnesty but a clear path to citizenship, work visa’s go without saying and our immigration laws enforced.

    independents and immigrants should be thinking ted cruz or rand paul as well – for one reason, liberals have been promising the same bull sh-t and i dont just mean immigration – for the last 50 years.

    this administration has sh-t all over this country and there are very effective fixes, but we need to flush this administration down the toilet first to do so.

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