The first question we have to ask ourselves when talking about sanctuary cities is whether or not a law has actually been broken.
Men in the Old Testament did not run for refuge unless they had actually killed another man. Thus, when we talk about the idea of refuge in the modern day, we have to ask whether those who are seeking refuge have come across the border illegally. In most cases, this seems to be a fairly simple question to answer.
But the question is rarely so simple as it seems.
Men who murdered someone and ran for refuge had not intended to murder anyone; it was an accident. Something went terribly wrong, and someone ended up dead. In order to not complicate the matter unnecessarily, and in order to prevent an actual crime from being committed in revenge, the accidental murderer was given refuge. The refuge, then, was not a shelter from the law; it was a protector for it.
If a man who showed up at a sanctuary city was actually a criminal - that is, if he had intentionally done wrong - even the city of refuge would not protect him.
Now, it's easy to say that this is apples and oranges. No one accidentally ends up sneaking into a foreign country and trying to establish a life. Those who have come here illegally knew exactly what they were doing. Therefore, none of this applies, right?
Not necessarily. In most of these cases, we are talking about persons who didn't intend to be in this position. For those that take a hard black and white view of this issue, that will be hard to hear. But overwhelmingly, people tend to want to stay wherever home is. They don't want to leave their families behind. They don't want to leave their homes. They don't want to start all over with whatever they can carry on their backs. They don't want to live a secret life of sneaking around, always worried about being caught. They didn't intend to be immigrants at all.
But something, somewhere, went terribly wrong. Their home was overrun by drug cartels. Their opportunities were taken away. Their fields were stripped bare by enemies or natural disasters. Their homes were ravaged by nature herself. Something went wrong and life where they were wasn't working any more; it not only wasn't working - it wasn't possible. Maybe their children were being kidnapped. Maybe their husbands were being threatened. Maybe their wives were being raped. There are as many reasons to leave home as there are immigrants, and for most of them, it's not because they want to live as secret refugees in a new land where their very first act will be to break a federal law.
Thus a very real human element is introduced into the discussion. Are these bad persons? Is the man who dropped his stone and accidentally killed a passerby a bad person? If a man is swinging his hammer and the head flies off and hits his brother, killing him, is the man swinging the hammer a bad person? If a man's entire life and home comes under siege and he flees to a new land under cover of darkness to save his childrens' and wife's life, is he a bad person?
One of the arguments being raised right now is that there is a faction of criminality among illegal immigrants. Fair enough. There is a faction of criminality in every population, including non-immigrants. The sanctuary city is not a refuge for that. These cities of refuge do not protect those who are intentionally doing harm. They are not shelters for the drug trade. They are not safe places for sex offenders. They are not free reigns for murderers. The sanctuary city does not protect the criminal. So this argument is null.
There is another consideration to be made when we start to look at the law in relation to this issue. That's coming up tomorrow.