The truth about sanctuary cities

There is not much disagreement among Americans that there should be a standardized process for non-citizens to enter America, and those who fail to meet those requirements should be subject to punishment and/or deportation.

The means to get there is the sticky point.

Of course, there was once a point in our nation’s history when the lone requirement was simply to make it to Ellis Island. A doctor would take a look at you to make sure you’re relatively, and voila, you’re on the path towards becoming an American.

Indeed, if you’re reading this, you almost certainly descend from somebody who had that very experience. Of course, times have changed, and the criteria to become American is understandably — and appropriately — more stringent.

There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. If you ask some conservative thinkers, their solution would be to round them all up and toss them out tomorrow. That’s just not realistic for an abundance of reasons.

For one, it would put our economy in a tailspin. Undocumented workers contribute billions of dollars in taxes each year. In some cases, they contribute more than those in the top 1% tax bracket who get numerous tax exemptions.

Secondly, it’s simply impossible to identify who is illegal and who is not without discriminating and infringing on people’s rights. Strict and forceful deportation policies create an environment of fear among all immigrants, legal or not.

And this is what brings us to sanctuary cities.

The term derives from a religious movement in the 1980s, when churches felt a moral obligation to shelter Central American refugees from countries fleeing war and persecution. By taking them in, they were subverting the law, but offering sanctuary to innocent victims escaping the horrors of their home nation.

The term has since become more heavily politicized, and was taken to a whole new level during the 2016 election as the central platform focus of Donald Trump.

In 2017, the term “sanctuary city” conjures up images in people’s minds of a lawless city where illegal immigrants can do whatever they want without being criminalized.

But the truth is, according to many published accounts, that local police departments support sanctuary cities.

What qualifies a location a sanctuary city is their refusal to cooperate with the federal immigration agency, ICE, which essentially has a mandate to use any means to identify illegal immigrants and give them the boot. Cities that cooperate with ICE are requested to keep inmates in jail even when they’ve been cleared for release so it can be determined if they should be deported or not.

Not only does this open cities up to potential lawsuits when a detainee is, in fact, legal — which has precedent — but it exacerbates that sentiment of fear between immigrants and police. It eliminates any incentive for immigrants to cooperate with police, thus taking away what could have been a valuable source towards tracking down actual illegal immigrants who are continuously breaking the law.

So while sanctuary cities do exist as a symbol of America’s growing diversity, their primary function is to create a safer environment within cities between residents and police.

Now this isn’t meant to be a total defense of illegal immigrants. They should migrate to America legally. Though it should be noted that while there are plenty of real life incidents of undocumented persons committing violent crimes — sometimes even murder — against innocent Americans, statistically, it doesn’t make it any more likely that an illegal immigrant will commit murder more often than someone who was born here.

Immigration is a very complicated issue. Sanctuary cities are just a part of it.

Next time you hear someone complain about a sanctuary city, maybe you can inform them that they don’t exist as a safe haven for murderous gangs from Latin America, but rather, as a place where local police departments can act in partnership with residents to enforce the law and track down those who truly abuse their privilege of living in America.

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Great, new planets for Trump to ban immigrants from!

The news of the discovery of seven Earth-sized planets orbiting around a dwarf star 235 trillion miles away rattled the scientific world on Wednesday, as it provides us with the best opportunity to possibly discover alien life outside of our solar system.

Within minutes of the announcement, Donald Trump proposed a travel ban from the seven exoplanets, declaring that they would only send us their rapists and their terrorists.

OK, that didn’t actually happen. But does it honestly seem that far-fetched?

The 235 trillion miles is equal to about 40 light-years, meaning we have to learn to travel at the speed of light to one day get there.

Whether we hear about this again anytime soon, who knows. But sometimes it’s nice to remind ourselves that in the grand scheme of things, our planet is an infinitesimal speck in the endless universe. Meaning all the chaos and disorder we are currently experiencing is simply a flash in the pan on a cosmic level.

Unfortunately, we are currently right smack in the middle of that pan, and Donald Trumprefugees-welcome is taking a giant shit in it.

On Tuesday, his administration laid out an outline to target and deport illegal immigrants, giving very wide and broad lattitude to border agents and other immigration agencies that undoubtedly will raise constitutional concerns.

Yes, in theory, this is a lot less disgusting then the travel ban, which we all knew the true intent of.

These directives target illegal immigrants, a faction of people that countries across the world are trying to expel from their borders. So Trump’s goal is nothing new or evil. And yes, mass deportations occurred under Obama. We know that.

But this time, the context is totally different. Immigrants – legal or illegal – are barricading themselves in their homes, fearful at who will come knocking. The priorities for who is to be targeted for deportation have been erased. Under Obama, illegal immigrants who committed serious crimes were the clear primary focus. Under Trump, it’s the Wild West.

Does anybody fully expect that Homeland Security will execute a peaceful, systematic process for identifying illegal immigrants and removing them?

It’s doesn’t take a genius to predict that this wide dragnet is going to result in hundreds, if not thousands, of legal citizens who fit the physical description of an immigrant being stopped and frisked, and that ugly stories are going to come to light in droves.

More than 2.5 illegal immigrants were thrown out under Obama, under his specific guidelines. That’s more than any other president.

Trump is acting on the ridiculous and unpopular campaign promises he made to pander to his most fervent supporters, and it’s putting political action over common human decency.

It’s easy to sit back, grab some popcorn and watch as it continues to implode in his face. But while that happens, millions of people, including all those who immigrated here legally, are living in fear. That’s what’s happening right now as you read this.

Unexpectedly (and thankfully), the orders have motivated activists throughout the country. So much so that someone actually found a way to unfurl a giant banner on the Statue of Liberty that reads in big capital letters: “REFUGEES WELCOME.”

The banner has since been removed.

But for a short while, for the first time in the last 33 days, the Statue of Liberty lived up to its creed.

The automation of the Internet begins

I’m a couple of days late on this, but a big congratulations to Endwell, N.Y., whose Little League team won the World Series on Sunday.

It’s especially meaningful to me because Endwell, in central New York near the Pennsylvania border, is just a few miles outside Binghamton, where I attended college.

So in a way, I feel like I was personally connected to this year’s Little League World Series champions. In the same way that Kylie Jenner considers herself one of the Kardashians.

The team from Endwell defeated a squad from South Korea in the deciding game. So you know what they say — all’s well that Endwell.

On another global note, a Civil War ended this week. No, unfortunately, that does not mean the latest Captain America movie was pulled from theaters.

But the Colombian government and its rebel opposition have agreed to a peace accord that officially ends a 52-year conflict.

There’s been a war raging in our hemisphere for more than half a century, and nobody in ShakiraAmerican even knew. The only time we ever even think about Colombia is when we enjoy the things that originated there — like coffee, more coffee, Sofia Vergara and Shakira.

I’m really not sure which of those two exotic females Americans would be most unable to live without. My answer? I could do without Sofia Vergara’s nagging voice, but Shakira’s presence I would welcome whenever, wherever.

OK, enough jokes. Let’s get real now.

One of the major themes in not only this year’s election, but in politics in general, is the economy.

But it’s become an especially charged topic this year amid one candidate’s suggestion that American jobs are being stolen by undocumented immigrants — which economists have debated the truthfulness of.

But as for me, I say those fears are misguided. We’re not losing jobs to immigrants, we’re losing jobs because the American workforce is becoming automated.

Technology has been taking away jobs since the Industrial Revolution. Factories that once required hundreds of workers were downsized with the development of more complex machines.

Computers continued that decline. And now that we’re in the era of smart computers — we’re screwed.

Look no further than Facebook. You all may have noticed that the “trending topics” section along your news feed looks different. And that’s because Facebook recently made the change to remove humans from deciding what’s trending, in an attempt to remove any bias.

AutomationAs a result, we’re no longer informed of why something is trending, but just given a simple list as a result of Facebook’s algorithms. And so far, it hasn’t gone too well.

The words “Megyn Kelly” were trending on Monday, and typically, it’s because she said something stupid. (Although, I’ll be fair, she’s not as big of a blithering idiot as most on that network.)

But instead, her name appeared because a completely fabricated news story was trending about her.

And that, my friends, is something that a computer can’t realize on its own.

So I say let’s change the narrative in politics. Instead of rounding up illegal immigrants, let’s have a mass deportation of smart computers. Because they’re not only taking our jobs, but they’re doing them worse than we could. And that’s tough to do, because humans are natural screw-ups. Just look at what we’ve done to our freaking atmosphere.

Don’t worry folks, the Weinblog will never be taken over by a computer.

Or has it been written by a computer this whole time?

Although I do type this every day on a computer, so it’s not really a trick question.

I don’t even know what I’m talking about. It’s time to go listen to more Shakira. But early 2000s Shakira, none of that “She Wolf” crap.

Yeah, I’m going to let a robot blog for me tomorrow.