Saturday, February 11, 2017

Sanctuary Cities: Illegal Hideaways for Illegal Immigrants?

In the Judeo-Christian Bible, there are forty-eight cities mentioned as having been allotted to the Tribes of Israel, with the exception of the priestly Levites and Cohen who were spread throughout the land. Of these forty-eight cities, six were set aside as "cities of refuge", Kedesh, Bezer, Romath, Shecham, Hebron, and Golan (Joshua 20:7-8). So, what does that mean exactly? Well, the purpose of these cities were to provide sanctuary to those accused of committing a crime, except an intentional murder. Under the Mosaic Law, an intentional murder was punishable by execution. However, if the accused had accidently caused the death of another or committed another crime, they could seek protection in one of the six cities until such time as a trial could held and a decision was rendered by the congregation.

If the individual was found guilty, they would be punished accordingly to the prescribed law, which was usually stoning. However, if found innocent, they were to remain in the city until High Priest in office at the time of the trial dies, at which time the individual could leave and return home to reclaim his property, go elsewhere and start over, or remain where they were. If they left before the High Priest died, they could be pursued and punished by the offended person(s) up to and including killed. Many other ancient kingdoms and empires offered cities or territories of refuge for individuals, tribes, or occasionally, even entire nations. Case in point was Ancient Egypt, who allowed the Hibiru (or Apiru), a semi-nomadic Semitic people on the verge of famine, to settle in the area around Goshen in exchange for serving as a buffer against other raiding nations such as the Hittites . Yet, in time, their numbers grew and they were forcibly expelled (and possibly providing the origin to the Exodus story).
Then there was the Roman Empire which provided points of refuge for Goths and Vandals fleeing the encroaching Huns pushing westward from central Asia. Many, if not most, were starving, sick, and desperate to find safety. While Rome allowed them entry into the Empire in exchange for protecting their Eastern frontier as an auxiliary, Roman treatment was almost as barbaric as that of the Huns. Eventually, the Goths and Vandals took their revenge on Roman for their mistreatment and broken promises. Other nations and empires too provided sanctuary cities or protected areas, usually at the whim of the king or local "lord-in-chief", and as often as not, to tweak the nose of some sovereign. This was especially true during the various religious wars such as Catholics against Protestants, Islam against, well, just about everyone, including Hindus and Buddhists. Groups like the Jews had moving from one protected area to the next down to a fine art while those unable or unwilling to move were either forcibly converted or simply annihilated.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR), a refugee is someone who flees their home country due to a "well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion". The UN agency adds that there are, at any given time, approximately 11 - 12 million refugees in the world. The vast majority of these are being persecuted based on their tribal, ethnic or religious identity, while the rest are fleeing because of their political leanings or simply caught between various fighting factions. More often than not, it's some combination of the aforementioned. During the 1950's through the 1980's, there were a number of refugees fleeing countries in South and Central America as a result of brutal military juntas (which, ironically, the US helped to establish and maintain). Other fled their country of origin as a result of severe economic conditions. Only a few left due to direct persecution by their government and those tended to be native inhabitants, descendants of the Mayans, living in Mexico's Chiapas. Ironically, immigration, particularly, illegal immigration from one South or Central American country to another is rare due to the severe penalties imposed on the individual and anyone convicted of aiding them (Mexico's policy for instance calls for a fine equal to 100 days of minimum wage and/or two years imprisonment in a federal penalty for the first offense. Imprisonment can, under certain circumstances be up to ten years. Mexican nationals convicted of providing aid receive the same penalty under the Migration Law of 2011).

The United States is nation of immigrants. Practically everyone now living in the U.S. is an immigrant, the son, daughter or descendent of a immigrant. Most, these days, are from Asia, the Middle East, or Africa, and many it seems are here based on an emergency vista as the result of war, famine, or social chaos in their home county. Meanwhile, tens of thousands have applied for entry into the country, either in order to become a citizen (in which case a working knowledge of reading speaking, and writing English is required along with a basic understanding of American history and laws is required), to attend school or for employment.

However, America has a severe crisis when it comes to those who've decided to bypass international and domestic immigration laws. At present, the U.S. has in the neighborhood of eleven million individuals in this country illegally. The vast majority are here simply to secure employment (some send a percentage of the money earned back sent home) or obtain taxpayer paid health benefits, with no intent on eventually being naturalized or citizenship by pregnancy ("anchor babies"), which is form of fraud. None have had a health screening, which obviously raises the risk of them bring serious and often deadly diseases into the country, and with them routinely moving from state to state, spreading the disease. They rarely speak English or have any understanding of even our most basic laws, which can put them at risk of being exploited by dubious employers. Many live in stay in crowded apartments or homes; often illegally or in violation of various health codes, or even garages! Nevertheless, what healthcare they or their children receive, generally come from clinics and is often erratic. The same goes for any education their children receive, and all of this comes out of the pockets of taxpayers to the tune of near $113 billion dollars annually. Of course, crime in the form of criminal gangs, drugs, break-ins, scams, and robberies has become a problem in itself, resulting in hundreds of deaths.

Despite these issues, the U.S. has at times been lax with enforcing its immigration laws, starting with President Ronald Reagan, who signed an law in 1986 providing amnesty to some seven million illegal aliens, most from Mexico and Latin America, but also a substantial number for Asia and Africa too. Since then many more have crossed our borders. Under President Barack Obama, enforcement of immigration laws came to a virtual standstill through gutting the budgets and authority of the ICE and the Border Patrol. Now under President Trump, ICE and the Border Patrol have been given its proverbial "bullets" back. While many Americans are pleased with the reasserting of our immigration laws, some aren't so happy.

In the U.S. there are 200 so-called "Sanctuary Cities", with several others such as Cincinnati Ohio, Louisville and Lexington Kentucky debating whether or not to join their ranks. Many of these cities already have large populations of illegal residents while others do not. By becoming a "sanctuary city", each location agrees not to cooperate with federal or state authorities to locate or detain anyone here illegally, be it a housewife, factory worker or a mass murderer. In addition, they can refuse to provide any information or other assistance in identifying someone here illegally. In other words, each city enacts a "don't ask/don't tell" policy when it comes to one's immigration status, which extends to personal residency, school enrollment and employment, although taxpayers are still required to pick up the tab for their costs. However, since their actions are in violation of federal immigration laws, each location runs the risk of seeing its federal funds cut off, be it for schools (including public, colleges, universities, and vocational schools), healthcare, road improvements, grants for crime enforcement, police, fire, and EMS equipment and training, programs for alleviating poverty, and so forth. Any shortfalls have to be absorbed guessed it...the taxpayers. The result, as states like California can attest, is an exodus of their tax base, which increases the burden on those remaining. A secondary issue is that it encourages more individuals seeking protection from immigration laws to settle down there, which only worsens the problem. It also attracts gangs, many of whom are illegally here, plus it raises the potential of a health crisis has pointed out previously.

For those who claim "No One is Illegal", "Immigration For All", or that deportation breaks up families, remember that this isn't about restricting or stopping immigration. It's about securing our borders---as every country on the planet has the legal right and obligation to do. It means enforcing existing immigration laws, so while no person is "illegal", their actions are. If they make the decision to commit a crime, which illegal immigration is, they are the one's putting their families at risk. It's no different from what a junkie does when they try to score or robber does when they walk into a store or bank with a gun. It's about protecting people from the possibility of pandemic by requiring basic health checkups of those coming here legally. It's also about protecting individuals from unscrupulous employers; individuals unrestrained by OSHEA or other employment laws. It's also about showing responsibility to those who are doing all the right things to come to this country instead of trying to "jump the line".

Finally, it's about protecting taxpayers so they don't have to support those who are too selfish to do the right thing. It's also about trying to protect Americans from criminal gangs, crimes, and even terrorists coming into the country with the sole intent on doing harm to us (the Border Patrol has already reported detaining dozens of individuals from the Middle East, most notability Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, where they are large numbers of terrorist cells). We need to step up and protect not just our national sovereignty, but our family, friends, and neighbors while encouraging potential immigrants to do it right.

Ancient History Modern Issues

The United Nations Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR)

Police State: How Mexico Treats Illegal Aliens

The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Immigration on United States Taxpayers

Numbers USA: Map of "Sanctuary Cities"

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