Opinion | A Test of Sanctuary City Empathy

Opinion | A Test of Sanctuary City Empathy


To hear Democrats tell it, the decision by Texas, Arizona and Florida to relocate aliens to sanctuary cities is a project of abject cruelty. One Massachusetts Democratic legislator labeled it “morally criminal,” MSNBC host

Chris Hayes

called it “deeply, deeply sick,” and Sen.

Dick Durbin

(D. Ill.) criticized it as “pathetic.”

The Democratic politicians running the recipient cities are no fans either. Chicago Mayor

Lori Lightfoot

called it “un-American,” while New York Mayor

Eric Adams

characterized it as an “erosion of basic human rights.” Washington Mayor

Muriel Bowser

complained it was “a crisis that is certainly not of our making.”

Maybe they should consider the perspective of the states that sent them their unwelcome visitors. Chicago, New York and Washington all chose to be sanctuary cities, officially committed to welcoming those who come to America illegally. As of last week, Chicago had received 500 from Texas. In late August, Gov. Abbott’s office told CNN that Texas had sent around 7,400 to Washington and roughly 1,500 to New York. But none of that comes close to what border states deal with.

With a month to go through Aug. 31 in fiscal 2022, a record 2,150,639 aliens have been apprehended along the Southwest border. That’s up a quarter from fiscal 2021’s 1,734,686 detentions and more than four times fiscal 2020’s total of 458,088.

Put another way, communities along the southwest border—primarily Texas and Arizona—have had to deal with on average 6,420 people crossing into America every day this year. What Chicago got in two months the southwest border sees every two hours.

And of course, though Democrats complain about Republican relocation efforts, they’re pretty mum on the Biden administration’s. The Department of Homeland Security has relocated illegal aliens—primarily unaccompanied minors, the Feds claim—to other parts of the country. How many DHS is loath to say, but most aliens are released where they crossed the border, again primarily in Texas and Arizona. The number of aliens those two states receive is probably between the populations of West Virginia (1.8 million) and Idaho (1.9 million).

These numbers don’t include the “gotaways,” people who cross the border illegally but aren’t caught by the Border Patrol. For obvious reasons, DHS doesn’t know exactly how many there are, but Secretary

Alejandro Mayorkas

told a congressional hearing there were an estimated 389,155 in fiscal 2021. If the ratio of apprehensions to “gotaways” is the same this fiscal year, then there have been more than 482,000 illegal migrants who passed into the country uncounted so far in fiscal 2022, roughly the population of Raleigh, N.C.

Southwest border states and their communities are necessarily the first in the nation to deal with fentanyl and human trafficking and all the misery that comes from them. It’s costly: Since early last year Texas has provided over $4 billion to beef up border security and assist local communities with the wave of aliens.

State Sen.

Kelly Hancock

(R., Texas) said in a phone interview that border communities in Texas shoulder an inordinate portion of the costs. Local hospitals and clinics must provide aliens uncompensated healthcare. Schools must accept the children, many of whom don’t speak English. Both government and private social services find their resources strained. Petty crimes committed by people desperate for food and shelter have severely worsened the quality of life in many border communities.

No wonder that in March 2021, Gov. Greg Abbott deployed the Texas National Guard and elements of the Texas Department of Public Safety to help stem the tide of border crossings. Arizona Gov.

Doug Ducey

followed suit the next month when the situation in his state reached crisis levels.

Sanctuary-city mayors complain, but comparatively they’re taking in a handful of aliens and have significantly more resources to help than the many smaller border towns. Leaders of states and communities along the U.S.-Mexico perimeter are tired of being told “our border is secure” when they deal on average with 275 illegal aliens showing up every hour of every day, many needing the assistance of a compassionate nation. As Yuma, Ariz., Mayor

Douglas Nicholls

observed in a phone interview, no matter how far they are from the southwest border, city leaders have to step up to help with the migrant crisis because the border’s problems of drugs and trafficking reach them too. These problems require the resources of a nation, not a region.

Democrats and left-leaning commentators can express all the righteous indignation they want, but their bluff has been called. The days of virtue signaling are over, and it’s time for liberals to show if their claims of sympathy and solidarity were genuine or mere political posturing.

Mr. Rove helped organize the political-action committee American Crossroads and is author of “The Triumph of William McKinley” (Simon & Schuster, 2015).

Wonder Land: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has noted a historic shift that no political outrage will change. Images: AP/Zuma Press/AFP via Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly

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