Towards A Good Samaritan World

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Heather MacDonald criticizes "sanctuary laws":

In those final remarks, Bloomberg blasted a House proposal to penalize cities and counties that have “sanctuary laws.” These ubiquitous laws prohibit local government employees from notifying federal immigration authorities about the presence of illegal aliens. Sanctuary mandates create vast law-free zones where illegal immigrants know that they face virtually no risk of apprehension...

In 1996, Congress responded by prohibiting local governments from restricting the speech of their workers in this way. To no avail. Virtually every sanctuary city proceeded to ignore this new federal law as well as the preexisting immigration laws. New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani took his defiance to federal court. He lost his suit against the 1996 law, but—on September 10, 2001—declared his intention to continue violating it anyway.

Contra MacDonald, it's perfectly legitimate for local governments to prevent their employees from turning into privateer Minutemen while on the city's clock. First, local taxpayers may prefer that the employees they hire enforce real laws, not perverse, unjust, and infeasible national "laws" passed by a misguided Congress. So local government employees have as much right to forbid their employees from notifying federal law enforcement about illegal immigrants while on the clock as they do to forbid them from surfing porn sites on the web. Second, it's normal for the government, and other organizations, to restrict employees' rights to use information acquired on the job, if such uses of information would reduce employees' effectiveness. If the cops will turn in every illegal they find to the police, illegals are less likely to assist them in catching thieves and murderers. It's perfectly normal for a city to bar its employees from conducting themselves in ways that harm the interests of the city (if the city regards immigration as beneficial) and their effectiveness in performing their jobs.

What's especially interesting is that Giuliani defended sanctuary laws. I didn't really know Giuliani's position on immigration, which was why I preferred McCain. If Giuliani is really as pro-immigration as McCain, without having incurred McCain's negatives with conservatives, that makes him an appealing choice for 2008.


  • My support for Giuliani comes from knowing NYC before and after he became mayor. Before, the conventional wisdom was that the city was ungovernable and that the police should not go after petty street crime because the perps were blameless non-white poor people. The new mayor defied that "wisdom" and the criticism of the smarter classes and made the police directly confront law-breakers. He actually held police commanders accountable for crime levels in their precincts. What a concept! Less crime encouraged an influx of Asian immigrants setting up convenience stores on street corners all over the city. These struggling immigrants could now provide needed goods and services to the city's poor and working class residents without fear of losing their modest businesses to the feral youth that prowled the streets under the protection of the establishment. Rudy is a true libertarian because he understands that just as government is obligated not to violate your rights it is also obliged not to let others take away your rights.

    By Blogger cokaygne, at 5:33 AM  

  • And my support for Giuliani comes from the fact that he's socially liberal. Social freedoms are, in my opinion, more important (in a rich country like ours) to happiness than the marginal gains in income better monetary and fiscal policies could bring.

    By Blogger Nato, at 7:26 AM  

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