Sanc­tu­ary cities and the con­sti­tu­tional rule of law

The Community Connection - - OPINION - By Rep. Frank Ryan Guest colum­nist Col. Frank Ryan, CPA, USMCR (Ret.) is a Repub­li­can who rep­re­sents the 101st District in the Penn­syl­va­nia House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

The bat­tle rages on! The con­tin­ual bat­tle over sanc­tu­ary cities is heat­ing up in un­be­liev­able ways. Pres­i­dent Trump has made the is­sue of sanc­tu­ary cities a ma­jor part of his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s legacy.

Ac­cord­ing to most ad­vo­cates, a sanc­tu­ary city is a city that lim­its its co­op­er­a­tion with the na­tional gov­ern­ment ef­forts to en­force im­mi­gra­tion law.

The com­mon per­spec­tive fa­vor­ing sanc­tu­ary cities is that mu­nic­i­pal and state lead­ers be­lieve that a sanc­tu­ary city re­duces the fear among il­le­gal im­mi­grants of re­port­ing crimes as well as us­ing med­i­cal care and ed­u­ca­tional facilities.

Most es­ti­mates are that there are over 300 ju­ris­dic­tions in the United States where some sort of de facto (in prac­tice) or de jure (in law) sanc­tu­ary sta­tus ex­ists.

On Jan­uary 25, 2017, Pres­i­dent Trump signed an ex­ec­u­tive or­der called “Bor­der Se­cu­rity and Im­mi­gra­tion En­force­ment Im­prove­ments” which ful­filled a cam­paign pledge and set off the de­bate be­ing played out in the press and in the courts about our na­tional im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy and the abil­ity of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and states to defy legally passed laws.

This bat­tle goes well beyond the is­sue of im­mi­gra­tion. This bat­tle is about the very fab­ric un­der which our na­tion was founded.

When laws are just ig­nored based upon pre­con­ceived ideas with­out go­ing through the courts, the leg­is­la­ture, or the ex­ec­u­tive branch chaos en­sues.

Most states fol­low the same pat­tern frame­work. It is our rule of law. This is an es­sen­tial com­po­nent of our gov­ern­men­tal struc­ture and any ef­fort to un­der­mine that un­der­mines our gov­ern­ment, our free­doms, and our way of life.

This is not about bu­reau­cracy win­ning. This is about the abil­ity of peo­ple to in­ter­act with one an­other with some de­gree of cer­tainty about what the laws of the land are. Any­thing short of that de­stroys the very fab­ric of this na­tion and our Constitution.

When one set of rights or laws can be ig­nored then they can all be ig­nored.

A sim­i­lar thing hap­pened in the United States with the same­sex mar­riage de­bate when states passed laws that de­fied the De­fense of Mar­riage Act or in some cases states merely de­fied the law. Even­tu­ally the United States Supreme Court per­mit­ted same-sex mar­riages.

The dam­age done how­ever of al­low­ing this prece­dent of ig­nor­ing laws with­out puni­tive ac­tions against the states or those re­spon­si­ble is in­cal­cu­la­ble.

It was ironic that in the case of sanc­tu­ary cities, one ad­min­is­tra­tion turned a deaf ear and chose not to en­force the laws on the books rather than chang­ing the law be­cause they were not able to get the votes in the leg­is­la­ture.

When the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion came in all that was needed to be done was en­force the law which is now spurring the le­gal chal­lenges that should have taken place in the first place.

This prece­dent of ig­nor­ing laws be­cause you can­not get the votes nec­es­sary to change the law in the leg­is­la­ture must be stopped. The sanc­tu­ary city prob­lem is as good of a place to start as any.

One of the great ad­van­tages of busi­nesses lo­cat­ing in the United States is the rule of law. It is the cer­tainty of know­ing what the rules are so that you can struc­ture eco­nomic growth for the ben­e­fit of all ac­cord­ingly.

The minute we de­vi­ate from that found­ing prin­ci­ple we have in­creased the un­cer­tainty of lo­cat­ing in the United States and un­der­mined one of the great­est eco­nomic en­gines in the history of the world.

That struc­tural fail­ure will hurt sig­nif­i­cantly more peo­ple than those im­pacted by the sanc­tu­ary city dis­pute cur­rently un­der­way.

Leave it to the process cre­ated in our Constitution. Any­thing short of that will lead to dis­as­ter.

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