Don’t Fall for the Threat Against ‘Sanctuary Cities’

I think the Denver Post put it best when it said Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions’ threat to pull federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities doesn’t even help his own cause, no matter how you look at it:

[G]lossing over the legal complexities, threatening to hurt the unfortunate — while also threatening to pull resources from police officers — would seem a poor stick to use when one’s goal is to increase public safety.

Nevertheless, towns across the country are taking action to not only protect residents and improve community policing by removing any element of fear in police encounters, but also making sound fiscal decisions by refusing to proactively enforce federal immigration law. Sounds pretty practical, no?

Immigration was the subject of my very first post for Blue Jersey and it remains one of the more vexing issues for towns in New Jersey. When you moved to your town, did anyone check your immigration status? Of course not. The only thing that mattered was that you could afford whatever housing was available. The same standard must apply to all residents, documented or otherwise.

So, if you’re not going to take the moral, just argument, here’s the economic argument. According to the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, the roughly 500,000 undocumented immigrants estimated to live in New Jersey contribute an estimated $476 million in state and local taxes per year.

What’s more, asking our local cops to enforce immigration law not only creates an environment of fear, likely hindering crime reporting and crime investigation, but also saps resources from our local coffers and places heavier burdens on the taxpayer—an unfunded mandate.

Rudy Rodas, chairman of the Immigration Committee at the Latino Action Network, a New Jersey coalition of Latino organizations made the economic case in a recent op-ed, saying that taxpayers and the economy “will face the financial consequences of the federal government’s plan to uproot thousands of families. U.S. citizen children left behind will become wards of the state. They will require additional government, social, and educational resources.”

Citing a recent report from the Center for American Progress, Rodas pointed to the financial impact on multiple sectors of the economy due to the labor shortage.

In its entirety, Trump’s mass deportation program of raiding, arresting, and jailing will destabilize our state economy and cost New Jersey taxpayers more money than we have to spend.

Finally, inclusive communities are economically prosperous. There is no sound financial argument to the contrary. Unless you live in Far Hills or some other wealthy enclave, socioeconomic exclusivity is not good for the local economy. That case has been made a thousands times over, but in case you need fresh data, here’s Urban Institute’s “Cost of Segregation.”

And then, bottom line is this: If anyone tries to take our money, expect some of the nation’s heaviest state and municipal hitters to challenge the move in court. From NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio:

“Nothing specifically has happened. This was more saber-rattling today from the attorney general. But we believe the executive order is readily challengeable in court,” the mayor said in his weekly television segment. “It’s all words right now. If they actually act to take away our money, we’ll see them in court.”

 

 

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