Sanctuary Cities

In 2017, Texas passed one of the nation’s strongest sanctuary city bans. Do you believe local police should be able to check the immigration status of the people they stop? Do you believe the state should punish local officials who don’t cooperate with requests from federal immigration authorities?

I am always fascinated by the language we use in politics and also the origins of that language.  So, for the term “Sanctuary City” we have to go back to the late 18th century when certain cities were providing sanctuary to fugitive slaves.  Obviously, slaveholders were furious as they wanted an end to Sanctuary Cities, so that they could retrieve their “property” and they wanted stronger federal and state power to accomplish this task.  Fast forward some two hundred years and now the call is for more state and federal power to expel labor. 

 

So we could reflect on the historical tension between local, state and federal law and its impact on today’s policy in the area, but I want to focus on labor.  So let’s go back and understand that in the 1790s, southern agrarians had difficulty with Sanctuary Cities because they needed to preserve cheap labor.  Their model wasn’t to build civilizations for all; they specifically were looking to preserve profits for a few by looking at their labor as not human.  They only had to provide for the basic sustenance of their labor and nothing more. 

 

Keep this in mind and let’s fast forward to the presidential campaign of 2016.  Imagine yourself at a Trump rally. The rally cry is known.  “I will build a wall, and….” “Mexico is going to pay for it.”  It’s this second line that deserves some focus, so keep it in mind.  Let’s move to a Bernie rally, “This is a rigged economy, which works for the rich and the powerful, and is not working for ordinary Americans.”

 

The populist movements that swept our nation in 2016 were largely about economic insecurity.  On the one hand, you had a rally cry to expel labor that was pulling down wage rates, and the insecurity was on full display, as the greatest applause was that someone else would pay.  On the other hand, you had a more overt message claiming the economy as rigged.  The common thread, the average American was under attack, the realities of our economic and government structures were (and are) failing to give our population security in the future. 

 

Kennedy spoke about the “common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself.”  How have these manifested in our modern society to further our insecurity?... Tax breaks for the wealthy, wage stagnation, increasing health insurance costs, and wedge politics promoting the hate of some unknown other.

 

So, if insecurity is at the heart of a new push to end Sanctuary Cities, what can we learn by examining labor.  Based on history, the American worker on the low end of the wage spectrum should question their belief that expelling illegals will actually increase opportunities for them. You already have the prominent Bermudez family in Juarez saying they don’t care what policies we adopt on this side, because their wage rates are now cheaper than China’s.  So understand this, if you expel the illegals, your Sanctuary Companies that are in manufacturing will look to take advantage of the cheaper labor on the other side of the border.  You can increase tariffs on their products to the point of protecting American workers, but Sanctuary CEOs are likely to pass those costs on, insuring that you pay higher prices.

 

On the horizon, underlying all of this, is Artificial Intelligence.  A technology that can disrupt all labor regardless of country of origin and disrupt the foundations of civilization.  This technology can create a resurgence of those slave era deviant economic systems that don’t look to build civilizations, because in the future, our labor will be inhuman.

 

So the structuralist looks past a mere incident where the state can punish a local official, and instead examines the core of why a policy may have support, and whether the structures that precipitated that policy may punish us all.