Seattle attorney Matthew Gross believes there’s a conservative argument to be made in favor of sanctuary cities. He made his case in a piece on Crosscut last week.
“The point of my article isn’t that necessarily (Republicans) should want their city to become a sanctuary city. It’s more that they should support the idea that a city can choose for themselves whether or not they are going to help enforce federal immigration policies. And that decision should be left as close to the people as possible,” Gross told 770 KTTH’s Jason Rantz. “Everybody should be supporting the local choice.”
Sanctuary cities are places where the use of local resources is limited when it comes to immigration enforcement. Some sanctuary cities refuse all cooperation with federal immigration agents. Others take a less adversarial approach.
“Really, what’s happening if a local law enforcement officer picks somebody up for a traffic stop or something like that, and ends up passing that person off to ICE, then the people, the voters of that city won’t know who to hold accountable for that act,” Gross said.
Gross used the example of marijuana law to illustrate his point. Washington state residents voted to legalize the drug in 2012, but it remains illegal at the federal level.
“A DEA agent could still come into Washington and arrest somebody for having any amount of marijuana. And let’s say somebody was picked up for a speeding ticket and they happened to have a joint in their car and the federal government said, ‘Hey, this person has marijuana. That’s a violation of federal law. Will you hold them for us so we can come pick them up and arrest them?’” Gross said.
“I think when you take kind of the emotional charge that a sanctuary city has in this country out of the equation and look at it in that perspective, that seems like a federal overreach. And it seems like it would be perfectly reasonable for the City of Seattle to say, ‘No, we’re not going to hold this person. Sorry DEA, if you want to come find them yourself, go ahead.’”
Although the power to enforce immigration policy is exclusively with the federal government, Gross said, voters should not want the federal government forcing cities to use their own resources to help enforce that policy.
“If the local law enforcement in a city decided that they did want to cooperate with ICE, that’s their choice,” Gross said. “I would try and persuade people not to do so, but I do believe in the concept of federalism that you know, if you want to help out you can help out. But the federal government shouldn’t be telling us how to use our resources and how to use our law enforcement.”