Monday, July 16, 2012

Biting The Hand That Feeds Them

It came as no surprise that the illegal immigrant-needy Justice Department fought to keep Arizona from defending its borders when the feds wouldn't. That pleased the open borders crowd no end. He may even have picked up a few votes for his boss with the action. What did come as a bit of a surprise last week was that Attorney General Holder then decided to go after his buddies in the sanctuary movement.

Sanctuary cities are largely populous urban crime centers, but there are small enclaves of yuppie political-correctness as well. Sanctuary as a genuine policy largely ceased to exist centuries ago with the decline of the supremacy of the Catholic Church. The rules were pretty stringent. Sanctuary had to be sought within a consecrated church, and it usually applied only if the person seeking sanctuary was holding onto the altar or some religious icon particularly identified with that church or cathedral. Even to our medieval forebears, a sanctuary city would have been an odd concept indeed.

American law does not recognize sanctuary at all—in any state or the federal jurisdiction. It is pure politics, and it has been rather successful as a means of keeping illegal immigrants out of the hands of immigration authorities. Federal law clearly allows the central government to withhold massive federal funds from cities which refuse to cooperate with the federal immigration authorities. So far, almost zero funds have been withheld despite a serious spike in crime committed by illegal immigrants.

Some of this action is predictable as hell, the rest somewhat surprising. First of all, I'll believe it when I see it. It's one thing in an election year to say you're going to prevent government waste by cutting off large sums of money to sanctuary cities. It's quite another to set the legal process in motion. But what is truly surprising is that the Justice Department has asked Holder to pursue Cook County, Illinois. For those who may not know, that's basically Chicago and the Obama suburbs.

In a fit of spite, Holder cut off all federal/state cooperation with Arizona, even after winning a landmark case against Arizona and the Tenth Amendment. At this point, Arizona can do next-to-nothing on its own to protect its borders and its citizens, and Holder doesn't want any illegals turned over to ICE or the Border Patrol even when they are captured under the current crippling standards. If this is a move to get back the votes he lost in Arizona by picking up votes in Illinois, it's a very strange way of doing it.

It may just be a matter of slapping the troops back in line. Even early sanctuary city San Francisco will turn over habitual illegal immigrant felons to the feds. According to John Morton, Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement: “Right now, it's not a question of Cook County releasing some individuals to us. They are releasing no individuals to us, including very violent offenders, and I just don't think that's good policy.”

Even Let 'Em All In DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has jumped on the enforcement bandwagon against Cook County. The pressure on Holder and President Obama from his own people is growing, and with it a political dilemma. Holder and Obama are both products of the Chicago/Cook County Democratic political machine. The current mayor of the Windy City, Rahm Emanuel, was an Obama confidante, and is facing an unprecedented (yes, unprecedented) murder rate on the streets of Chicago. Even though he has not yet weighed in on the problem, Emmanuel is aware of the fact that the high murder rate is being enhanced by the activities of illegal immigrant gangs. But Cook County, among all the sanctuaries, has been the most combative about turning illegals over to the feds.

I guess you would have to call this a falling-out among thieves. Cook County claims that it has received no special demands or interrogatories about its sanctuary policies from the federal government. Spokesman for both Chicago and Cook County say that they have not been told their federal funds might be withheld, and that if it should happen, they would fight tooth and nail.

Cook County is not yet covered by the Secure Communities Act which requires that the fingerprints of all arrested illegal immigrants be turned over to the feds for determination of deportation status. Among the provisions of the Act is that if a prisoner's fingerprints submitted to the FBI pop up on the federal immigration deportation database, the city or county involved is to “detain” the arrestee beyond the time allowed for citizens charged with similar crimes. Thus far, Cook County (which includes the largest Chicago jail) has refused to cooperate. It will be covered by the Secure Communities Act early next year. But that's after the Justice Department puts on its pre-election dog and pony show.

Director Morton apparently attempted to salve wounded feelings at the Cook County offices by trying to work out the fingerprint issue before the Secure Communities Act goes into effect there. Even that effort was rebuffed, so there are some egos involved here as well. This could be a battle royal. Chicago/Cook County is in the same desperate financial condition as all Democrat-controlled big cities. It's broke, and so is the state that might help them out. Under the State Criminal Alien Assistance Act, Cook County has received $13 million in federal assistance money. That is not the only money-for-nothing program that transfers tax money from Washington DC to friendly cities and counties, but it is one of the largest. It's impossible to justify that expense when Cook County refuses to cooperate in even the most minimal way.

This may all be a big ploy to gain the votes of anti-illegal immigrant activists. Holder will likely make big speeches and assign multiple political lawyers to the matter, then make more speeches in the Hispanic communities telling them he won't really interfere with their support of open borders. Nothing will actually happen until after the November election. I still remain mystified by the move, however. Cook County and Chicago are the last places on earth that Obama wants to offend, even a little.

If you have an opinion about why this move at this time, I'd be delighted to hear it. Your theory will probably turn out to be far better than mine.


AndrewPrice said...

Sounds like election year politics, even liberals don't like illegal aliens and it's hard to justify protecting ones who've committed violent crimes. My guess is Obama will use this to claim he's tough on the issue.

T-Rav said...

"Cook County and Chicago are the last places on earth that Obama wants to offend, even a little."

Eh, I don't see that he offends his "hometown" with this move. He's got the African-American constituency rolled up regardless; this probably won't matter to the upper-middle-class folks who like to think of themselves as progressive and tolerant, as long as it's not happening in their backyards; it might win back a few among the white working-class voters who'll see the admin as being tough on crime. As for the Hispanic community, he might lose a little support, but not enough to matter. Plenty will vote for him regardless, and besides, only the high-information voters among them will pay attention to this anyway--and there aren't many of those in any bloc.

That said, I don't know why he would do this either. Maybe it is to present himself as tough on crime, but I don't see that he gets much bang for his buck.

tryanmax said...

A development like this makes me wonder what the Democrat internals are showing. With the exception of 2008, Illinois has been a relative 50/50 state for decades. 2010 was a dramatic red shift for the state to say the least. I know in theory Obama has the home-state advantage, but if he's managed to blow that, then by strict numbers, IL is in play.

Joel Farnham said...

"If you have an opinion about why this move at this time, I'd be delighted to hear it. Your theory will probably turn out to be far better than mine."

The only thing I can think of is that Rahm isn't cracking down on the murders and that in turn will embarrass Obama.

Unknown said...

Andrew: I tend to agree. It's all show and no go on illegal immigration. He's trying to pander to the anti-criminal crowd while keeping his skirts clean on open borders. At least that's my guess.

Unknown said...

T-Rav: I'm starting to see a trend here on the "tough on crime" issue. He would lose Hispanic votes, but only if they believed for a minute that he actually intends to do anything. They won't, at least in any appreciable numbers. He could actually withhold some of the federal funds under the Secure Communities Act to impress a few budget hawks, but it would have zero effect on stopping crime. In fact, it could mean even more Hispanics being released back into the community after arrest and fingerprinting for serious crimes. It's only if he withheld funds for social welfare and other giveaway programs that he would see any genuine losses.

Unknown said...

tryanmax: Chicago is the Democratic tail that wags the Republican Illinois dog. Republicans have alternated with Democrats at the state level quite often, but it's more often blue when it comes to federal offices, particularly the presidency. Part of the problem is the Illinois Republicans tend to be almost as crooked as the Democrats. Look at the list of mayors, governors and state legislators who have been convicted of major crimes over the past two or three decades. Obama has the home machine advantage, not the home state advantage.

Unknown said...

Joel: That could certainly be part of it. Emanuel is quickly becoming a bad joke among the residents of Cook County, and that includes large segments of the minority population.

T-Rav said...

LawHawk and tryanmax, not only that, but as far as I can tell, there's not a dime's worth of difference between Illinois Democrats and many Illinois Republicans. It was GOP ex-Governor Ryan, after all, who got a Nobel Peace Prize or whatever it was for ending the state death penalty and a prison sentence for corruption.

Unknown said...

T-Rav: Well, ya gotta take the bitter with the better. LOL

tryanmax said...

LawHawk, Home machine is definitely a better way to put it. And I'm not trying to argue that an Illinois Republican is any worthwhile thing. I'm just musing over what might have prompted such an oddball move.

Unknown said...

tryanmax: I'm still doing the same thing. I lean toward the "tough on crime" baloney, but I'm not yet entirely convinced. The number of stories about violent crime being committed by illegals is getting some press, so maybe he's trying to get out in front of the issue by emphasizing criminal enforcement so people will forget about the underlying problem--immigration enforcement.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I concur, LawHawk that it's probably pretend to be tough on crime thing.

Perhaps Obama plans to tell stories to reduce crime there as well.
Right after he tells stories on why it's important for him to tell stories.

Taranto, of the WSJ said: "Obama needs a better narrative than Obama needs a better narrative."

Individualist said...


It could be the "its my backyard" syndrome. The murder rate is going up in Cook County and Obama has a lot of friends there I am sure.

Could be that Oprah is whining to Michelle or Barack and he is putting pressure on Cook to start making things a little safer there.

Course this means he knows the policy in Arizona is bad for all of us but how could he not.

Unknown said...

USSBen: We seem to have a concurrence on the "tough on crime" thing. Taranto does have a way with words.

Unknown said...

Indi: The Democrats own Cook County, and Cook County owns Barack Obama. Friendship has very little to do with it.

But I like your thinking. Barack PW Obama is more frightened of Michelle than he is of the Chicago thugs. And if he loses Oprah, he loses the election.

Unknown said...

Today (Tuesday) Rahm Emanuel announced that he would not cooperate with the feds except for illegals with felony records. When the Secure Communities Act kicks in next year he will be in direct violation of the law. That would trigger the cutoff of funds from the Criminal Aliens Assistance Act, and if he puts it in writing, subject him to criminal prosecution under the SCA. If the Obama administration continues in power, I guarantee you neither action will be taken.

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