"Sanctuary Cities: A New Civil War"
Posted Sat, Nov 11, 2005 at 6:55 am
What is most remarkable about sanctuary cities is that they are illegal. In 1996 Congress passed two laws dealing with the subject: the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. Under both statutes state and local governments could no longer prohibit employees from inquiring about immigration status or tipping off immigration authorities. The Court of Appeals upheld both provisions in New York v. U.S. (1999).
The Appeals Court remarked that "the City's sovereignty argument asks us to turn the Tenth Amendment's shield against the federal government's using state and local governments to enact and administer federal programs into a sword allowing states and localities to engage in passive resistance that frustrates federal programs." The court concluded that where the federal government has undoubted power to act, as in the case of immigration, the Supremacy Clause "bars states from taking actions that frustrate federal laws and regulatory schemes. We therefore hold that states do not retain under the Tenth Amendment an untrammeled right to forbid all voluntary cooperation by state or local officials with particular programs."