As previously stated, I will be working to pass a Sanctuary County ordinance in Humboldt County. We have a kick-off meeting this Sunday afternoon if you’re interested – 3:00 pm in Room 106 of the Nelson Hall at HSU.
I’m anticipating a lot of discussion. I don’t think it would pass if we held the election tomorrow. We are going to have to win hearts and minds.
One of the arguments is that Sanctuary laws violate the Constitution because the federal government has primary jurisdiction on questions of immigration. We do not dispute that the federal government has the jurisdiction to determine and enforce the laws. But there is nothing in the law which states that states or municipalities must dedicate resources to voluntary cooperation with a federal agency. They simply cannot interfere.
The principle dates back to 1842 in the case of Prigg v. Pennsylvania which held that states could not interfere with the federal government in tracking down escaped slaves within their territory and returning “the property” to the “owners.” That was the horrific part of the decision, based upon the Constitution’s failure to recognize human rights over property rights.
But there was a positive flip side to the decision which held also that local authorities could not be compelled to assist the federal government in the enforcement of federal law. From the article below:
“Prigg v. Pennsylvania proved a pyrrhic victory for slaveholders. States might not have been able to protect refugees from slavery, but they could, and did, withdraw state cooperation. This meant that city constables and county sheriffs were instructed not to arrest suspected fugitive slaves, that state jails were closed to federal marshals who had fugitives in their custody, and that state judges would refuse to issue warrants or certificates of removal. Into the breech stepped free blacks and their white abolitionist allies, who organized protective societies and became increasingly bold in their opposition to federal law enforcement. Sanctuary cities became like fortresses.”
Unfortunately, the federal reaction was the Fugitive Slave Law which expanded the enforcement capabilities of the federal government in one of a long line of concessions generated to appease the slave states, but had the effect of being one step closer to the inevitable civil war. I liken the threats made recently by the ICE director and the reported ramping up of agents for potential large raids in California to the escalation of the Fugitive Slave Law. Fortunately it won’t lead to civil war, but it could lead to massive opposition.
Either way, sanctuary cities are not only constitutional, but punitive measure taken against them are probably unconstitutional. So far the courts have ruled as much, at least in terms of Presidential power. If Congress passes something similar to the executive order, we’ll find out.