As House Democrats continue to oppose every border protection measure President Trump offers, they are getting a little of their own. Sanctuary cities across America are swelling – and creating a new reality. They are becoming magnets for illegal aliens, driving up homelessness, creating unprecedented housing shortages, producing tent cities in parks, and measurably increasing public health and safety costs.
Ironically, as Florida’s Republican governor last week officially banned sanctuary cities, requiring municipal authorities to cooperate with federal law enforcement, California has taken the opposite approach, becoming a full-blown “sanctuary state” – and a national leader in homelessness.
Where does it end? Which side will prevail? Will we secure our border, returning American cities to lawful cooperation with federal enforcement, restoring rule of law, lowering housing costs for citizens – or drift into some borderless, sanctuary morass? One answer comes from Florida, another from California.
Start with California. Here is the country’s first “sanctuary state,” filled with counties and cities refusing to comply with requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities, empowered by an audacious Democratic governor – and facing a major homelessness problem, arguably brought on by his own party’s policies.
In point of fact, California tops the sanctuary county lists, outnumbering any other state for counties, cities and numbers of harbored illegal aliens. Of the top ten homeless cities in America, California has four – Los Angeles with 55,000 homeless, San Diego with 9,000, San Jose with 7,000, and San Francisco with 6,000. California’s de facto open border has not done neighbors any favors. Seattle wrestles with 12,000 homeless, Las Vegas with 6,000, and the list grows.
At the moment, California is living through a corporate profit bubble. As the Wall Street Journal reported, “California’s economic boom has resulted from the successes of technology companies such as ride-sharing businesses Lyft and Uber, both which went public, minting a new batch of high-earning taxpayers.”
With wind in their sails, they continue to accommodate illegal aliens in record numbers, whether for political benefit or other reasons. In fact, the state just expanded government-subsidized health care to adult illegal aliens, a first.
But the future is uncertain. There is no obvious answer to expanding homelessness, especially with a growing number of illegal aliens. Moreover, as the Wall Street Journal reports, “Historically, the state has proved susceptible to economic swings” and “even a mild recession could result in budget deficits of $40 billion over a three-year span.” So, what seems barely manageable today, may be less so tomorrow.
So, what is California doing? They are living in the moment, not thinking too hard about the future, and gambling wildly on illegal aliens – the opposite of Florida.
By stark contrast to California’s spendthrift, stick-it-to-Trump political ways, Florida is on another course. Governor Ron DeSantis this week signed one of the strictest bans on sanctuary cities anywhere in the country, following eleven other states to assure cooperation with “federal immigration authorities.” Not coincidentally, no city or county in Florida makes the top-ten list for homelessness.
All these presages bigger questions. At some point, if the border is not effectively shut by cooperative US-Mexican agreement or responsible congressional action, the president will have to act. His options are limited, but he has some.
Beyond specific border actions, one way to manage the crisis is to hold sanctuary states responsible for rising related costs, from homelessness to transportation infrastructure, public health threats to expanding criminal groups.
As states like Florida take self-preserving actions and cooperate with federal law enforcement, states like California may become outliers, a source of national concern over public health and safety. Exactly how federal authorities legally hold California accountable – in a world of conflicting federal and state laws –– is unclear, but some degree of accountability seems appropriate.
In short, why should federal tax dollars paid by citizens who live in states that have agreed to enforce federal law – by banning sanctuary cities – be required to pay for burdens created by sanctuary states? Why should Florida, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee or Texas – all of which abide federal law – be forced to fund rising public health, safety, transportation, education and other costs in sanctuary states?
The irony in California’s position is that their state budget is one-third federal money. That is right. Eye-popping but true, while the state pays federal taxes, their vast spending is one-third federal money. Look closer. Some 72 percent of the federal dollars go to health and human services, the exact faucet they turn on for illegal aliens, now including adult illegal aliens’ healthcare costs.
No obvious answer exists, short of fixing the border, creating greater compliance and accountability by sanctuary states, and thinking harder about legal remedies available in our federal system – which balances states’ rights against federal rights. But the crisis that everyone now admits exists on the border – is moving inland. Record homelessness is appearing in sanctuary cities. It is a sign.