Victor Davis Hanson has an interesting article today on changes in the parts of central California in which he grew up. He touches on the illegal immigration phenomena, which reminded me of something that happened a couple of years ago. I received a phone call from someone who worked for an organization that promotes the idea of sanctuary cities. It is unusual for me, on my cell phone, to receive a call from someone whom I do not know. It turned out that a fellow priest had given my number to this organization. Now, a sanctuary city for the most part means that the place does not allow police or city workers to ask about citizenship, and that is about it. I was quite upset that my number was given by another priest to a political organization, and even more upset about the aims of this group.
I have noticed many fellow clergy support the sanctuary city movement and other more substantial things like amnesty. This is largely no doubt out of compassion and Christian love, which I totally understand (there is also, I imagine, in certain circles the desire to increase congregations and political pull but that does not apply to any of the clergy I know). But I have a problem with sanctuary cities and amnesty for several reasons. I agree we need to help those in need, whatever their immigration status. I would hope this would be done at the church or private volunteer organization level rather than at the government level. But entering the country illegally is, well, illegal. A huge problem I have with amnesty is that there are lots of people who go through the very difficult (though among the easiest in the world) process of applying legally to come here and then stay here. Amnesty makes a mockery of this process and further delays those who do things the right way. Also, if we are trying to turn people into solid citizens, it does not bode well that their first act upon entering our soil was an act of breaking the law. Does the law need to change? Perhaps. But it is what it is. There are times when an immoral law must be righteously defied but I do not think our immigration laws qualify.
As a clergyman and especially as a Christian I feel I am duty-bound to respect the law, which is why I am not a fan of the sanctuary city movement. I also recognize that illegal immigration, which is illegal, is beginning to tax local and state governments to the breaking point in some places. My support of the process of legal immigration as opposed to illegal is not from any sort of anti-immigrant sentiment or lack of compassion but rather from what I feel is reasonable civic prudence.