John Katko likes to wear the mantel of bipartisanship, but in a recent letter to his constituents he engaged, once again, in the divisive fear mongering against immigrants that has characterized the Trump administration. The letter calls New York’s sanctuary state bill a “dangerous” proposal, thereby suggesting that immigrants fleeing poverty and violence are generally dangerous and must never receive sanctuary anywhere. Several states have adopted such proposals, which prevent state and local police from enforcing federal immigration laws. When the local police cross the federal/state line to implement federal immigration laws, law-abiding immigrants often hesitate to report crimes to the police out of fear that the report will trigger deportation. The distrust that comes from adding immigration enforcement to local law enforcement’s already formidable duties creates danger, because the police depend upon crime reporting to identify and arrest criminals. To be sure, many communities that adopt these proposals oppose uprooting hard-working families that have lived in the United States for decades to send them “back where they came from.” But that hardly makes the proposal dangerous. The federal government remains completely free to enforce federal immigration laws in sanctuary city jurisdictions (and on the southern border), but its officials must do so on their own. If our federal representative feels obliged to oppose this assertion of states’ rights, at least he could do so in a manner that does not fan hysteria and hatred.
David M. Driesen
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