Sanctuary Today, Sanctuary Tomorrow, Sanctuary Forever

Seth Barron, City Journal, December 14, 2016

Since the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, municipal officials across the United States have vowed to resist federal encroachment on “sanctuary” policies that protect illegal immigrants. In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio has fashioned himself into a modern-day Orval Faubus, railing against federal intrusion into local matters with the defiant enthusiasm once shown by Dixiecrat diehards.

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What, practically speaking, does sanctuary mean in America’s largest city? The signature accomplishment of de Blasio’s first term in office is the creation of a municipal identification card called “IDNYC.” This photo ID card, available to anyone who can demonstrate residence in the city, regardless of legal status, was primarily intended as a means for the “undocumented” to possess a government-issued credential attesting to their identity and residence—allowing them to open bank accounts, enter government buildings, and the like. Initial registrations for IDNYC surpassed all expectations, and to date, almost 900,000 people have obtained one, which suggests that estimates of New York City’s population of illegal immigrants—about 500,000—could be low.

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As of December, Mayor de Blasio was fighting in court to preserve the city’s right to destroy the old data, and he has vowed no longer to retain any records for newly issued cards. Thus, the city will now issue official photo ID to anyone who can present a gas bill and a foreign passport—and then erase all records connecting the cardholder to his or her purported identity.

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Another key feature of New York’s “sanctuary” status has been an official policy of non-cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as it seeks to deport illegal immigrants who have committed serious crimes.

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New York City no longer honors requests to detain illegal aliens convicted of nonviolent crimes unless a judge orders it to do so.

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Surely it is a great boon and comfort to illegal aliens residing in New York City, and many other jurisdictions around the country, that a sanctuary policy protects them from deportation. It would be helpful if someone could explain what benefit sanctuary accrues to the rest of us.

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