Trump Can and Should Troll the Media on Sanctuary Cities

By | 2017-05-14T15:02:06+00:00 April 19th, 2017|
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After Attorney General Jeff Sessions made a valiant speech this past week in Nogales, Arizona affirming that the U.S. border should actually be a border, the New York Times was up to its usual hectoring, again dwelling on the issue of sanctuary cities:

Mr. Sessions and the homeland security secretary, John Kelly, have attacked cities and states that decline to participate in the crackdown. Mr. Sessions has threatened these “sanctuary” locales with loss of criminal-justice funding, on the false assertion that they are defying the law. (In fact, “sanctuary” cities are upholding law and order. They recognize that enlisting state and local law enforcement for deportation undermines community trust, local policing and public safety.)

Allow the full implication of these words to sink in: refusing to deport criminals hinders public safety. Not only that, the editors flat out deny that sanctuary cities are “defying the law” by not turning over criminals. At risk of mind-numbing tautology, let’s state the obvious: national immigration law, by definition, stipulates that someone in the country illegally is breaking the law. I’ve been checking Politifact to see if they will correct the New York Times on this point of not recognizing breaking the law as, well, breaking the law, but bewilderingly the fact checkers have refrained. Politifact? Hello…?

The Times also neglected to quote Sessions’ most basic statement of principle on why anyone might get upset about a nation having borders and enforcing them:

It is just beyond my comprehension how we drifted so far away from the common sense notion that sovereign nations have borders and those borders should be honored … Any country that has common sense, and almost all do, has laws that if you commit a crime while you’re in the country, lawfully or unlawfully, you are to be deported.

The editorial board left these lines out because they may recognize that the common sense of them might interfere with their ability to promote their ultimate desire which, I suspect, is “a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders.”

That’s perhaps misleading. Why stop at this hemisphere?

Trump should troll them as only he can, which will likely elicit Olympic-level gymnastics of equivocation from the Times’ editorial board, among others. And then, when the editors smugly conclude that by an extremely technical definition they were correct—not to mention morally superior—Trump can smirk as he has drawn attention to how far left they are, and how convoluted their reasoning is.

Lurking here is an implicit assumption that most Times readers will not bother to read opposing views on the topic. If that’s true, then it is likely most Times readers aren’t aware of the polling numbers on sanctuary cities and they may not recognize the Times’s stance for what it is: a far-left position.

A recent poll posed the question, “Should cities that arrest illegal immigrants for crimes be required to turn them over to immigration authorities?” Eighty percent of respondents answered in the affirmative. Lest you doubt the provenance of the data, nothing less than the aforementioned universal arbiter Politifact determined that the sources were “real,” “legitimate,” and “venerable”—though they couldn’t resist quibbling with the term “sanctuary city,” and suggested that the wording actually encouraged respondents to say “Yes.”

Although the Times is not enormously keen on going too deep into the nuances of sanctuary cities, I will respect a certain journalistic duty here: there are situations where immediate deportation may hinder a criminal investigation, if witnesses are frightened of deportation and so fail to provide their testimony. And yes, people feel differently when it comes to truly minor crimes from how they do in cases pertaining to rape or murder. Perhaps city authorities can announce an exemption for witness situations, or strike a bargain with Sessions on this front?

Politifact also cites “experts” to lead the reader to conclude that sanctuary cities are really about protecting the immigration status of non-threatening individuals. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement recently released a report that lists all declined detainers between February 4-10, 2017, along with a lengthy and annotated list of all noncompliant jurisdictions in the country, explaining whether there are specific circumstances where the local authorities would make exceptions, or, in many cases, if these authorities have indicated they will do as they please. New York City, listed in the latter category, was served 73 detainers and declined 12, with 10 of these individuals charged or convicted of assault, including sexual assault. The report notes this figure probably underestimates the actual number of detainers that will be declined. At this rate, New York City will have refused to cooperate with over 600 requests in 2017.

On the West Coast, not to be outdone, California Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León used the first day of the new legislative session to introduce a new sanctuary state bill, also known as “The California Values Act.” Simultaneously, anger has broken out in Los Angeles over an exclusion of violent criminals from a $10 million fund to provide lawyers to those in the country illegally, with attorney Carmen Iguina of the ACLU remarking that “we shouldn’t be saying that there are good and bad immigrants.”

This remark alone deserves a Trump tweet, and it’s hard to know where to start in highlighting all the others instances of extreme immigration positions justified by mainstream figures and outlets. Still, it is vital for Team Trump to keep garnering easy wins in front of the public, and to make the “newspaper of record” look like a battalion of petulant-child intellectuals—along with renegade mayors and increasingly outlandish activist organizations.

The most visible sanctuary cities—the ones with the most outspoken mayors defending these policies, such as New York—are also often the elite international cities that average Americans view as out of touch and uninterested in their concerns. Drawing attention here would underline for American voters just how these cities feel about citizens of their own country. Furthermore, it would show where the Times priorities really are, and how selective the leading newspapers can be about presenting certain victims over others.

Trump should troll them as only he can, which will likely elicit Olympic-level gymnastics of equivocation from the Times’ editorial board, among others. And then, when the editors smugly conclude that by an extremely technical definition they were correct—not to mention morally superior—Trump can smirk as he has drawn attention to how far left they are, and how convoluted their reasoning is.

But Trump’s smiles upon “winning” here will fade as he remembers all the irreparably broken hearts he encountered on the campaign trail, those of families wounded by sanctuary city policies. The fact that Kate Steinle’s killer was deported five times and still managed to find his way back to San Francisco—a “sanctuary” for him but certainly not one for her—was an atrocity that enabled Americans to see precisely how perverse American immigration standards and enforcement had become. This is a truth we need to keep hammering home.

About the Author:

Jay Carnahan
Jay Carnahan is a recent graduate of Stanford University.