On March 29, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly held a meeting with various mayors, sheriffs, and municipal leaders to discuss the pressing problem of sanctuaries: state and local governments that, in one way or another, forbid or impede their law enforcement agencies from cooperating with immigration agents by refusing to honor detainers filed against alien criminals, by obstructing the flow of information about such aliens, by denying agents access to incarcerated aliens for purposes of interviews, or by declaring "safe zones" in which they will attempt to physically prevent agents from access.
Notably, the meeting follows a forthright declaration by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will no longer provide grants to such scofflaw jurisdictions, and there are some indications from House Appropriations Committee Chairman John Culberson that he may push DOJ to actually "claw back" past grants provided to them, which, given the amounts, would sting mightily.
Fox News, among other media outlets, reported on the outcome of the meeting, and captured quotations from several participants as they emerged. Some of the comments are absolutely astounding, and depart so far from reality as to be absurd.
Tom Manger, the police chief of Montgomery County, Md., a notorious sanctuary, is quoted as saying, "We are opposed to any funding being taken away as a punitive measure." Apparently Chief Manger just doesn't get that it isn't "punitive". It's common sense. Why reward jurisdictions that violate federal law (see 8 U.S.C., Sections 1373 and 1644) with hundreds of millions of dollars in grant monies, particularly when one of the requirements for providing such grants is that they be in full compliance with federal laws? The question, then, is why they were allowed to get away with their intransigence for so long.
But get away with it they have, and for so long that they are quite comfortable in their rationalizations. Columbia, S.C. Mayor Stephen Benjamin is cited as saying, "We are not sanctuary cities. We are American cities. These threats of holding back funding from cities across America, these are taxpayer dollars." To be precise, Mayor Benjamin, they are federal taxpayer dollars, not yours to dispose with as you please.
As one can see from Mayor Benjamin, several of these leaders have begun to insist that the federal government has it all wrong. They aren't sanctuaries. They do cooperate! Really! They just have, well, certain conditions that need to be met first.
A shining example of that attempt to posit a parallel universe far from this earthly reality is the city of Rockville, Md., (within the above-mentioned Montgomery County) which has come under so much adverse scrutiny lately because of a horrific sexual attack involving rape and sodomy of a student by illegal aliens in a school bathroom. The city manager, Robert Dispirito, is quoted as saying, "A misperception has been circulated questioning whether Rockville complies with federal law. Absolutely we do." To misquote Bill Clinton, I guess it all depends on what the meaning of "complies" is.
But the classic, the crowning glory of alternate realities comes from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, courtesy of Fox News:
Los Angeles is another city often cited as a sanctuary. "Nothing could be farther from the truth," Garcetti told Fox News, "We work every single day with ICE and other folks to make sure with a judicial warrant that comes from a court with a probable cause suspicion that people are all the time given over and deported.
Note to Mayor Garcetti: Before telling tall tales, be sure at least that they aren't so patently disprovable. There is no such thing as a judicial warrant in deportation proceedings. It just doesn't exist in law.
Warrants to arrest aliens in deportation proceedings are civil/administrative in nature, not judicial, and they are issued under the authority of the DHS secretary (authority was transferred from the attorney general by enactment of the Homeland Security Act of 2002; See 8 USC Section 1226). This isn't just a picky technical distinction; many jurisdictions have specifically laid out the demand for "judicial warrants" before they cooperate, as a way of insisting on the unattainable, thus ensuring that cooperation will never happen.
If you think that distinction is lost on all of these civic leaders, check out the remarks of Steve Adler, mayor of Austin, Texas: "To be clear, somebody that is in this country undocumented has committed a civil violation. Not a criminal violation but a civil violation." Exactly, Mr. Mayor. But federal law is still federal law, and the last time I checked, the Constitution did not give state and local governments the power to thwart federal efforts to enforce the immigration laws, or to decide on their own which grounds of deportability should be honored and which ones ignored because they don't accord with your open-borders outlook.
Reading all of these remarks, particularly Garcetti's, I was reminded of Stephen Glass, a enterprising and inventive reporter for the New Republic in the 1990s who went so far in fabrication that he actually created fake websites and sources to back up his stories.
If I were one of those other kinds of enterprising and inventive journalists, the kind called "fact checkers", I would undoubtedly be labeling the defensive comments of these various civic leaders as "pants on fire" or assigning the maximum number of "pinnochios" or whatever.
But I think we should take a different path. By this blog, I'm establishing "Whoppers" and, using that as the standard of measure, hereby collectively assign them the maximum. Congratulations to all of you! You are the proud first recipients of 10 Whoppers each. Be careful not to eat them all at one time. You might get sick.