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The Nihilism of Sanctuary Cities

What if the border between California and Nevada was nullified?

The theory of sanctuary cities is entirely hypocritical and self-serving. The idea of sanctuary from immigration law is predicated ultimately on the belief that there are or should be no national borders and thus no legal right to prosecute those who ignore them. But if California is a sanctuary state and Nevada is not, how is that distinction articulated and maintained?

Obviously California believes it has a clearly demarcated border with Nevada and that such a line is a good thing, allowing the Golden State a quite different approach to politics, economics, culture, and society within its own confines. Furthermore, if an illegal alien were speeding over Interstate 80 and crossed the state border into California, the state would object if any non-state law enforcement agent likewise crossed that line to turn him over to ICE for deportation. In other words, a sanctuary city or state is predicated on its ability to create borders not only to establish enforceable jurisdiction, but also as a reification of difference. Sanctuary cities, then, would insist that they have a right to create and enforce borders, and to create unique places within them that differ from other cities.

Nullification now thrives because our “pen and phone” president has decided to suspend federal immigration law enforcement in the manner that -- on over 20 occasions before his reelection -- he had warned was unconstitutional. But Obama has also ensured the next Republican president that he will have ample liberal precedent to create or neglect laws as his ideological whims dictate. Donald Trump, were he to be elected, might have a very different idea of what qualifies as a sanctuary city or what executive orders are needed to see through agenda with dispatch.

Forget about principles, because there are no consistent principles: sanctuary cities would never allow their precedents to apply to other jurisdictions that did not share their own liberal pieties. They believe federal law is omnipotent for everyone other than their own exalted classes, and they believe that borders, jurisdiction, and the sovereignty of laws are a good thing -- but only to the degree that they enhance their own utopian worldview.

The intellectual pedigree of sanctuary cities is not 1960s one-world ecumenicalism, but 1850s Confederate nullification. Their logical consequence is not a wide-open transnational continent, but utter disunion among the states and a second confederate attempt at destroying the primacy of the federal government.

Their politics are not exalted, but parochial, tribal, and demographic: sanctuary cities are predicated on the emergence of a large and politically potent Latino liberal demographic. Otherwise San Francisco or Los Angeles would be willing to turn over to ICE, for example, a lone Serbian illegal alien who had disrupted an environmental rally, or an Australian who overstayed his visa and began participating in "Trump for President" rallies. If thousands of Hungarian atheists were apprehended for committing crimes in Los Angeles, the Catholic archdiocese would stay mum about their deportation.

Nullification, neo-Confederate, tribal, and cynical are the proper epithets for such cities, which are best summed up as “cities of nihilism.”

(Artwork created using multiple Shutterstock.com elements.)