- - Thursday, July 9, 2015

It’s time to boycott sanctuary cities because they are not safe.

This is not like left-wing boycotts that aim to intimidate us into political correctness. This is about public safety. Local officials should obey the laws that require simple cooperation with immigration authorities. Cities receive millions of federal dollars that supposedly are conditioned on that cooperation.

No public safety? Then no conventions or tourism. No law enforcement? Then no federal dollars for make-believe policing.

Where laws are ignored, people are not safe. We witnessed that with the murder of Kate Steinle, evidently killed by a five-time Mexican deportee and seven-time felon who kept returning to San Francisco because he knew the city would let him stay.

Steinle’s is not the only such story. Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa Republican) has documented 121 murders related to illegal aliens set free by President Obama’s policies since 2010. Illegal immigrants accounted for three-fourths of all federal drug convictions last year and are one-third of all federal incarcerations, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

Yet more than 200 cities in 32 states provide sanctuary for illegal immigrants. No wonder Americans are buying guns in record numbers for personal protection.

Those locales grant blanket immunity, accepting the fiction that all illegal immigrants are peaceful and law-abiding. That is no more true of foreign nationals than it is of native-born Americans. Jeb Bush’s description of illegal immigration as an “act of love” is like pretending that every marriage is happy and that abuse does not exist.

This is not to accuse all illegal aliens of breaking additional laws. But immigration laws have a purpose: They are designed to screen out criminals, miscreants and people who will “become a charge upon the public,” meaning dependence on public assistance. When those laws are not enforced, the screening process disappears.

Sanctuary cities undermine public safety by refusing to distinguish between who is dangerous and who is not. Inquiries about behavior or life history are considered taboo. All of America pays a heavy price when public officials refuse to be law-abiding. Why should anybody else obey laws they dislike when leaders won’t? There should be no sanctuary for public officials who disregard our laws.

Their cities rely on the rest of us for tourism, conventions, sports fans and other revenue. Top sanctuary cities include New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Orleans, Chicago, Houston and Denver. These are among the 200-plus listed at several places online, such as the map from the Center for Immigration Studies.

Official statistics are not kept on crimes committed by illegal aliens; those would be too politically embarrassing. But liberals constantly tell us, “If it saves just one life, then it’s worth it.”

Examples of lost lives are plentiful. In addition to Kate Steinle, other recent victims include Oklahoma City TV sportscaster Bob Barry Jr., who died in June. Police say Mr. Barry was killed when Gustavo Gutierrez made an illegal U-turn. It was a huge U-turn: Gutierrez had been sent back to Mexico three times but always came back. Reports show Gutierrez had no drivers’ license but did have cocaine on him.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform cites other recent examples on its website, including these:

  • July 2015— Ever Olivos-Gutierrez, an illegal visa overstayer, was convicted of second degree murder in Colorado for the death he caused while driving intoxicated. It was the fourth time since 2000 he had been arrested for DUI

  • June 2015— A Salvadoran, Mauricio Hernandez, convicted in Texas for rape and murder of the baby born to his victim

  • May 2015— A Salvadoran, Julio C. Saravia, sentenced in Virginia to 29 years in prison for rape of a minor

  • May 2015— Zeng Liang Chen and Dong Biao Lin, illegal aliens from China, were convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison in New Jersey

  • April 2015— Sergio Quezada Lopez, a Mexican illegal alien who had been deported four times, was sentenced in Oregon to 15 years in prison for a heroin overdose death. His brother, Gerardo Chalke Lopez, also a previously deported alien, was give 18 years on the same charges.

Communities should reassure businesses, tourists, convention-goers and others by demonstrating their commitment to public safety. They could certify: “This city cooperates with federal authorities in enforcing all national laws, including immigration laws.” That could be posted on placards like those displayed by many retailers, warning that they cooperate with the local district attorney to enforce laws against hot checks.

Several in Congress are proposing new consequences for sanctuary cities. But can they succeed against liberal opposition in the U.S. Senate, plus a potential veto by President Obama? Fortunately, public boycotts of sanctuary cities cannot be vetoed by politicians.

Conservatives and all reasonable people should not act like liberals and use boycotts for cheap symbolism or to impose political correctness. Nothing like the efforts to keep the Super Bowl out of Arizona, halt the Final Four in Indianapolis, haul down Confederate flags or to shut down Chick-fil-A stores.

But insisting that cities protect us by simply obeying the law is not symbolism; it is public safety. Every community that declares itself lawless becomes a clear and present danger to those who live, work or visit there.

Ernest Istook is a former U.S. congressman from Oklahoma. Get his free newsletter here.

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