Jump-Starting the Federal Engine to Push Back Against Sanctuaries

By Dan Cadman on February 11, 2020

William Barr, attorney general (AG) of the United States, has announced a series of steps that are designed to push back, and ultimately crush, the so-called "sanctuary" movement by state and local jurisdictions, which purport to "make communities safer" but in fact do nothing but provide shelter for alien criminals to continue to damage and victimize those communities when released back to the street.

Some media outlets are describing the Department of Justice (DOJ) moves as a "legal assault", but that's a miscasting of what's going on.

Other, more "progressive" outlets are using the word "retribution" with some frequency to describe Barr's proposed plan of action, which is an absurdity. This is not a petty move to exact revenge against those with whom the AG disagrees.

It is, rather — finally — a strong pushback against the legal assaults by the sanctuary jurisdictions and their open-borders and advocacy organization soul mates. They declared war long ago against the notion that the federal government has a right to establish national immigration enforcement policies that bind them, preferring instead to think it is somehow constitutional to establish a patchwork quilt that depends on the vagaries of their political and philosophical dispositions.

The AG's core job description is preserving and defending the Constitution, which makes clear that a "uniform rule" of naturalization is a power preserved solely to the federal government. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the phrase contemplates and includes the nation's immigration system and structure of laws. As such, he is attempting to restore the constitutional balance; nothing more, nothing less.

Combined with recent moves by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), such as denying access to trusted traveler programs to New Yorkers (because that state's "Green-Light" law renders it impossible to conduct appropriate vetting checks on New York applicants), it would seem that the Trump administration is finally picking up where it left off before the resignation of AG Jeff Sessions.

Some cynics might see this revivification as a political ploy designed to capture votes in the next presidential election. Perhaps, but I'm not disturbed by that, even were it true (and it's by no means clear that's the case). I'm not one of those "contextualist" thinkers who believe that the measure of constitutionality of a government act depends on the intellectual and moral purity of the purposes behind it. Who among us can truly pass that test, either in our personal or professional lives? Certainly not the progressives engaging in lawfare against federal immigration policies, or their activist partners on the judicial bench in certain district and appellate courts. Whatever the motivations behind the DOJ and DHS efforts, they're the right thing to do for the country and for the communities put at risk by foolish, posturing politicians.

Make no doubt this will be a long slog through the courts every step of the way (isn't everything immigration-related these days?), but all in all it's a good jump-start to get the engine of government revved back up on this important and overdue effort.

Read more: Department of Justice Moves Against Sanctuary Jurisdictions