President Trump Should Withhold Bailout Funds From ‘Sanctuary’ States

By John Zmirak Published on April 22, 2020

States that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration law enforcement are telling us something. It’s quite simple, really. “We’re not in the same country as you. We don’t respect the democratically enacted immigration laws passed by Congress. And we won’t let our local resources help to enforce them. We will actively impede federal authorities who try. Rapists, killers, identity thieves and pedophiles alike, once we set them free on parole, we’ll turn loose on the country. Even if their very presence in America is a crime.”

What if Texas Just Went Its Own Way?

Imagine if Texas did that with, say, abortion laws. If it said, “Your Supreme Court has ruled one thing, but we will do another. We’re forbidding local sheriffs or police to protect abortion clinics. Those who oppose the procedure are free to follow their consciences. If that means taking sledgehammers and backhoes to the places? Well, we’re a sovereign state.”

Of course, since abortion is murder and the court decisions cramming it between the lines of the Constitution were lawless, the idea appeals to me. I never pass an abortion clinic without fending off some pyrotechnic fantasy.

But I value the rule of law, and national unity. So I wouldn’t urge Governor Abbott of Texas to tear up the threads of American nationhood, even in such a cause. It might start a civil war, to be candid. And such a civil war wouldn’t fulfill Just War requirements. (At the very least, it seems unlikely to succeed — the last and most critical of those requirements.) If Governor Abbott were to implement such a policy, and it caused a total disaster, I wouldn’t expect other states to bail him out. 

Sanctuary Policies Build Democrats’ Power

State governors and legislatures know that they gain representatives in Congress and extra federal billions whenever their population grows — even if that happens illegally. Even if they fill their cities with illegals who cannot vote. Democrats (the main sponsors of “sanctuary” policies) know that more people from poor countries means more votes for them. Often for multiple generations, as people grow up dependent on federal programs. So every amnesty passed, every anchor baby born, helps shift America leftward, for the long haul.

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So Democrat governors and legislators have clear, self-interested reasons for flouting federal immigration laws. They can satisfy the most rabid activists of the multiculturalist left, and get warm fuzzies from Catholic bishops like Cardinal Blaise Cupich of Chicago. Since 40 percent of Catholic bishops’ income derives from federal contracts, mostly to serve immigrants, few bishops are willing to cross the Democrats. Even those who support Planned Parenthood’s sale of baby parts, and legal infanticide.

If we could find some way for bishops to cash a check every time a mom chooses life, as they do whenever immigrants enter the country … maybe you’d see more pro-life activism on their part. Till then, money talks, and we know exactly what walks.

Cuomo to America: Drop Dead

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo virtually taunted the rest of the country a few weeks ago. That’s when he boasted that New York City is the coronavirus capital because it’s America’s immigration hub. He said that New York is sicker because it’s more “welcoming.” Then he demanded, as he demands almost every day, more federal aid drained from other states.

If a state wants to make itself the vector of infection for the rest of the nation by flouting national immigration laws, there’s not much the president can do. But he can make that state pay its own medical and lockdown bills,

I’m a native New Yorker from Queens, and what’s happening to the city breaks my heart. But President Trump, on behalf of the other states, should say “No.” He should say that to every state that rejects its duty of cooperating in enforcing America’s borders. Imagine a state that refused to permit U.S. military bases, or help U.S. marshals apprehend fugitives. “Sanctuary” policies on immigration are every bit as serious a rejection of national unity and patriotism. And voters in such states need to feel the consequences.

Open Borders and Open Marriage

Permitting de facto open borders in a country has deep and serious consequences. They’re analogous to an open marriage. If a husband unilaterally announced that he considered his marriage open, his wife shouldn’t stick around and cooperate. If she did, she’d be consenting to getting cheated. That’s what we’re doing when we reward lawless states that secede from our immigration laws.

If businessmen can ignore job-hungry citizens and instead hire illegals, those citizens are being cheated. If local parents have to pay property taxes for schools full of illegals’ children, those parents are being cheated. When local hospital emergency rooms fill up with illegal aliens, sick citizens suffer. One party in the contract that knits together our nation is suffering an injustice. It’s typically poor and working class Americans who suffer most, and the investor and political classes that benefit. That too is unjust.

Make Your Ventilators and Masks

If a state wants to make itself the vector of infection for the rest of the nation by flouting national immigration laws, there’s not much the president can do— at least with Congress divided, and too many Republicans still hypnotized by the cheap labor lobby. But the president can make that state pay its own medical and lockdown bills, and bear some of the consequences for its grandstanding moralism and cynical rejection of national sovereignty.

I wouldn’t send a single ventilator or surgical mask to any state that laughs at our immigration laws. Let them make their own, using the cheap labor they enthusiastically “welcome.”

Of course, if the president were to try such a policy, he’d be accused of murdering citizens in the states that lost such aid. It would be his job to make it clear that we as a country demand fairness and reciprocal patriotism from every state. Any state could open up the federal lifeline again by acting like part of the United States again, by respecting its national laws. And if those states’ governments refused? Then the guilt would be on them. Their voters should know what to do.


John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream, and author or co-author of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism.

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