Sanctuary Cities & Intellectual Laziness

by Geraldo Rivera | Nov 14, 2016
By Daniel X. O'Neil [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Folks criticizing Mayor Rahm Emanuel for re-stating Chicago's status as a Sanctuary City do not even bother to analyze his stance in legal terms. Basically, a Sanctuary City is a city that refuses to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

The most common controversy involves the Homeland Security Administration's use of Detainers---formal requests from immigration authorities for a local jail to hold non-citizen inmates until the feds can come around and pick them up, usually about 48 hours.

On September 30, Federal District Court Judge John Lee ruled that the Detainers are illegal. As of now his ruling only applies to Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri and Wisconsin, and affects some Detainers issued in about two dozen neighboring states.

His ruling will be appealed and will eventually wind up in the U.S.Supreme Court.

Why did Judge Lee rule Detainers illegal?

Because Detainer orders punish the detainees by holding them in jail without probable cause or a warrant.

There have been 18,000 refusals by Sanctuary Cities to cooperate in the last four years. None have been successfully challenged.

If the Trump Administration wants to change the law, it can pass a new specific federal statute that says cities and states jails must comply with HSA Detainers.

That new statute will then be subject to a federal court challenge that will ask a simple question: Is it Constitutional to ask a city jail to hold someone just because he or she is undocumented, absent probable cause that he or she has committed a crime other than their mere presence in this country?

The odds are the courts will rule as Judge Lee just did.

If the feds want jails to hold an undocumented immigrant badly enough, they should show probable cause the immigrant committed a crime and get a warrant.

And commentators screaming about Sanctuary Cities should do their homework.

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