02 June 2017

Think 3 Video News: A Trojan War over Sanctuary

I didn't shoot this video, as I was stuck in my office as all this was going down not quite a mile uptown yesterday evening. Instead, "Mert Melfa" uploaded to YouTube what looks like a Facebook Live video taking during a demonstration outside of the Hedley Building in Troy NY, currently its City Hall. A coalition of local groups came to lobby city politicians to declare Troy a "sanctuary city" in defiance of Trump administration threats to withhold federal funds from municipalities that refuse to identify undocumented immigrants when asked by federal investigators. A counter-demonstration formed, including the protagonist of the video. Most of the following consists of commentary and discussion, but during the last couple of minutes things break down as people jostle for position to hear a pro-sanctuary organizer talk to the media.

Communities like Troy that are already cash-strapped probably should put pragmatism before principle whenever someone proposes putting federal aid in jeopardy. They find themselves under pressure from people who see undocumented immigrants as the moral equivalent of fugitive slaves in the antebellum days. Sanctuary city laws are analogous in intent to 19th century "personal liberty" laws that put northern communities on record as refusing to assist federal marshals in capturing escaped slaves. Troy had no such law back in the day but it did have resistance to the federal fugitive-slave law, most dramatically when activists broke Charles Nalle out of jails in both Troy and Watervliet in 1860. Opponents of the fugitive law depended on a constitutional theory that slavery was an exception to the comity principle that required each state to respect the laws of other states. Relying on English common law precedent, which many still considered relevant to the U.S., they argued that slavery could have no legal standing, and slaveholders no right to their slaves, should a fugitive escape into a state where slavery had been made illegal. In our time, sanctuary cities (or counties) don't pit one state's rules on immigration against another's, but put sanctuaries in direct opposition, however passively, to the federal government which alone sets the rules for immigration. They are a form of nullification that has nothing like the moral justification that could be invoked when communities refused to uphold slaveholders' rights. You simply can't assert that everyone on Earth has an inherent right to settle in the United States (or anywhere they please) in the same way that you could argue that no man should be a slave. There is no equivalent oppression or implicit crime against humanity, especially when you consider that the theoretical immigrant is not barred absolutely from entering the country, but is only obliged to "wait in line" and follow lawful procedures. Those strictures may be unfair by some standards, but not in the existential way in which slavery is deemed unfair or unjust, and not in any way that justified resistance to a federal government apparently determined to enforce its will. It would be one thing for those who believe zealously that "no one is illegal" to take their own risks, but pressuring municipalities to declare themselves sanctuaries exposes others, who may benefit from or depend on federal aid, to risk with neither their consent nor any necessary benefit from sheltering the undocumented. There was a time when the sanctuary city movement was a relatively risk-free form of moral posturing, but it looks like that time is over, and it was never clear in the first place how moral the posturing was.


Anonymous said...

Most of us see them more as a legal equivalent of 'trespasser'. Someone who does not have your permission to be on your property. These people came into this country illegally, which is why we call them "illegal aliens", not "undocumented immigrants". Considering that many, many people from those same countries come here legally, filling out paperwork, proving who they are, etc. and we have no problem with these legal immigrants. So there is obviously a legal route through which the illegals could, but choose not, to take. This is the root of the problem for many of us. That they are here illegally, when (other than lack of patience) there is no reason for them to sneak across the border, unless they already know - or suspect - that the government has a good reason for NOT allowing them entrance. (Gang members, criminals, etc.)

Let's face it - not one of you would say it is a good or sane practice to allow complete strangers to simply walk into your domicile, so why do you feel it is a good or sane practice to allow complete strangers to walk into your country? These people who want to create sanctuary cities should be treated as traitors and criminals themselves.

Samuel Wilson said...

In the video, one of the anti-sanctuary demonstrators offers the example of a person he knows from Venezuela who would have good reason, in some sense, to get as far away from that country as possible, but is going back there for the next several months so she can begin the correct process of naturalization.

Scratch some of the pro-sanctuary people and you'd probably find folks who don't necessarily believe in the sanctity of the private domicile.

Of course, another factor behind the constant influx of illegals, as with the influx of drugs, is domestic demand, specifically the demand for cheap labor. It'll be interesting to see someone like Trump try to balance that demand with his presumably sincere concern for both border security and American workers.

Anonymous said...

"Scratch some of the pro-sanctuary people and you'd probably find folks who don't necessarily believe in the sanctity of the private domicile."

Would that be the same people who demand 'safe spaces' wherein they won't be exposed to the views and rhetoric of their political enemies?

"Of course, another factor behind the constant influx of illegals, as with the influx of drugs, is domestic demand, specifically the demand for cheap labor."
Yeah, well that is completely the fault of a capitalist government that seeks to use crime as a revenue source by fining, rather than imprisoning, those who knowingly hire illegals because they don't want to have to pay the prevailing wages - not because they can't afford to pay such wages, but because they are greedy, low life scumbags who don't care about this country or the actual citizens who make up the majority of the population. Along with a fine equal to 10x the yearly salary of all combined illegal workers, they should also spend at least 1 year in federal prison for every single illegal they employ.

Without knowing the facts, I can only imagine the reason that woman isn't welcome in Venezuela is her own fault. It most certainly isn't my fault or that of any American I know. It also doesn't excuse her illegal entry into the USA. For such illegal entry, she should be barred for at least 5 years from further entry. Rewarding criminal actions is NOT going to lower the crime rate, rather it tends to raise the crime rate when criminals know there is no real punishment awaiting them, should they be caught and prosecuted.

Anonymous said...

These amateur 'journalists' need to learn how to turn their sideways sideways, rather than up-n-down, which severely cuts down the quality of their videos.