Opinion: Concept of ‘sanctuary city’ adds to mounting immigration issues

To comply, federal law must be held accountable


Josh Halper

The Minneapolis skyline on March 13. City of Minneapolis Media Relations Coordinator Casper Hill said because there is not a clear way to definition of sanctuary city, it is unclear whether Minneapolis is or is not a sanctuary city.

By failing to comply with federal law regarding sanctuary cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul, along with other cities, are threats to the concept of the 11th amendment — that federal law is the supreme law of the land.  

States must follow federal law, particularly the executive order issued by President Donald Trump. The law states, “sanctuary jurisdictions across the United States willfully violate federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States.” Essentially, sanctuary cities violate federal law and so whether states believe the law is morally right or not is not a question.

There isn’t an official federal sanctuary city. It is more of an idea, a model of how to govern. Currently in the Twin Cities, there are rules that officials must give assistance before they ask about immigration status. Both Twin Cities’ mayors have said publically that everyone is welcome here, and legal status does not matter.

The president has threatened to withhold funding from cities who refuse to comply with immigration laws, which further complicates the issue of illegal immigration. The federal government cannot coerce Minneapolis and Saint Paul to comply, but Minneapolis and Saint Paul must comply with federal law. If states begin to ignore federal law, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has the right to come after the states and force compliance.

States must follow federal law, and people cannot be in the country without proper documentation. When state or federal employees know of someone’s improper documentation — illegal status — they should be mandated to report to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Being an American citizen, living in America and reaping the benefits is not a right, it is a privilege — one that many don’t want to acknowledge.

According to Pew Research Center in Minnesota there are an estimated 100,000 illegal immigrants. This costs Minnesota taxpayers $717 million according to Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). The United States simply cannot afford to ignore illegal immigrants, which makes Presidents Trumps threats understandable.

However, the line between coercion and enforcement is incredibly blurry when it comes to sanctuary cities. The federal government must recognize this fine line, and only ask that state and federal employees become mandatory reporters to ICE, instead of doing ICE’s job.