Sanctuary And Secession
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The Claremont Institute, home of historian Harry Jaffa, is known for its veneration of Abraham Lincoln, and for its support, fairly uncontroversial in most of the United States, for the winning side in the Civil War.

Some of's readers, and writers for that matter, would disagree with them on that. But here they're riding their hobbyhorse in a congenial direction.

The Claremont Institute - Sanctuary Cities: A New Civil War
The ghost of John C. Calhoun still stalks the land. Calhoun, of course, was the leading architect of nullification–and secession. Almost everyone believes the issues of nullification (the doctrine that federal law can be negated by state laws) and secession were resolved by the North's victory in the Civil War and the passage of the Reconstruction Amendments. But nullification has once again reared its hoary head, this time in the guise of "sanctuary cities."

The sanctuary cities' defiance of United States law is a kind of nullification, and while it's not secession, it would be better if it were. If your city council is sheltering illegal immigrants, they're not keeping them in the sovereign state of Los Angeles—they're sheltering them in America. The worst-case scenario has actually happened, when Muhammad Atta and his gang took off from Boston's Logan Airport and murdered 3,000 people in New York City. You may not live in a sanctuary city, but you sure live within a few hours flying time of one. Here's more from the Claremont people:


What is most remarkable about sanctuary cities is that they are illegal. In 1996 Congress passed two laws dealing with the subject: the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. Under both statutes state and local governments could no longer prohibit employees from inquiring about immigration status or tipping off immigration authorities. The Court of Appeals upheld both provisions in New York v. U.S. (1999). [VDARE.COM note: A lawsuit brought by THE CITY OF NEW YORK and RUDOLPH GIULIANI, as Mayor of the City of New York, in an attempt to protect the illegal alien population of NYC.]

The Appeals Court remarked that "the City's sovereignty argument asks us to turn the Tenth Amendment's shield against the federal government's using state and local governments to enact and administer federal programs into a sword allowing states and localities to engage in passive resistance that frustrates federal programs." The court concluded that where the federal government has undoubted power to act, as in the case of immigration, the Supremacy Clause "bars states from taking actions that frustrate federal laws and regulatory schemes. We therefore hold that states do not retain under the Tenth Amendment an untrammeled right to forbid all voluntary cooperation by state or local officials with particular programs."

There probably are Federalist concerns somewhere in the conflict between cities and the federal government, specifically a thing called the "anti-commandeering principle" which is meant to prevent the Federal Government from unilaterally imposing duties on state and local governments that will have to be met out of state and local taxes, but it's pretty clear that in places like New York and Los Angeles the City Council is not just refusing to do the US Government's job for it, the City Council is actually sleeping with the enemy.

However, I don't want to carry the Civil War parallel too far—if I recall, Lincoln's army used to be a little aggressive in dealing with cities that defied it. "Some people think [General Sherman] is a kind of careless man about fire."said Henry Grady in 1886.

Seriously, the Federal government has a lot of things it can do to City Council or Mayor who insist on violating the law, but that requires a certain amount of willingness on the part of the President of the United States, and that's what's been missing.

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