February 14th, 2018

I often ask people looking to exclude others or curb civil rights the question: What are you afraid of?

For Republicans, and conservatives generally, they fear is of no longer being in a position to fully enjoying their gawd-given rights of privilege. If everyone has the same special rights and privileges as they do, then they’re no longer special, are they?

Fear has worked in the past—the negros are coming for our daughters, the commies are coming for our daughters, the Muslims are coming for our daughters, the immigrants are coming for our daughters, you get the idea—but recent events suggest that voters aren’t buying that bullshit anymore.

Zaid Jilani, writing in Republican Scare-Mongering on “Sanctuary Cities” Backfires, Democrats Win Big Upset in Florida Special Election for The Intercept, explains:

In a special election on Tuesday, Florida’s Republicans took a page from Ed Gillespie’s playbook and deployed the threat of “sanctuary cities” to scare up the votes to win.

And, as it did in Virginia, the book ended the same way, with Republicans losing at the polls. Democrat Margaret Good beat Republican James Buchanan, son of Rep. Vern Buchanan, 52-45 percent, after Trump had carried the Sarasota district a year ago.

After weeks of dodging forums with the other candidates, Buchanan raised the sanctuary issue in a debate with Good and libertarian Alison Foxall in late January. “I do think as far as sanctuary cities are concerned, we should not have any sanctuary cities here in the state of Florida,” he said. “We shouldn’t be harboring illegal immigrants.”

“We must end sanctuary cities and put a stop to benefits for illegal immigrants,” reads the campaign website.

Good—who based her campaign for office on opposition to school vouchers and support for Medicaid expansion and environmental protection—countered Buchanan by insisting she cares about public safety, but pushed back on what she viewed as a larger assault on local control. “I think it’s important to remember that we are a country of immigrants,” she countered. “But let me be clear, if someone commits a crime in Sarasota or in Florida, they should be punished. And it does not matter what your immigration status is at that point. I think as far as home rule and sanctuary cities goes, that’s yet another example of the legislature trying to tell local governments what to do. And I leave it to local law enforcement and the federal government to follow the law.”

Now, going all immigrants are bad hombres in Florida wasn’t the smartest move, but as Jilani notes, this is an issue in places like Virginia as well.

The point that seems to be lost on conservatives is that this is a crucial law-and-order issue, just not the way they think its is. Allowing Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers free range in a community critically hobbles the ability of local police to do their job. If undocumented immigrants fear deportation if they speak with any law enforcement officials, then real criminals can go free and continue to commit crimes. That’s a lose-lose for any community.

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