Sanctuary Cities and States Have Seceded from the Union
New York City seriously contemplated seceding from the Union just before the outbreak of the Civil War. The mayor of the city was Fernando Wood, a rakish, charming, and handsome devil. He put his finger to the wind when southern states began to secede and decided NYC should stand with her sorely afflicted southern cousins.
But veiled in all the rosy political rhetoric was the hard and pragmatic fact that New York was a central hub of the slave trade, inextricably tied to the South’s cotton empire. Money did the real talking. Wood knew that, as he was a crook who had made a fortune selling public offices and offering immigrants citizenship in exchange for votes.
Mayor Wood decided disunion was a “fixed fact” and on January 6, 1861, he proposed New York City declare its independence. Henceforward, it would be called the Free City of Tri-Insula. Wood proclaimed New York City would “make common cause with the South” as a sovereign entity. He added the City could “deny Federal troops the right to march through the city.”
Nothing much seems to have changed since Woods’ era, a time during which Harper’s Weekly, reporting in 1857, declared New York under Wood was “a huge semi-barbarous metropolis… not well-governed nor ill-governed, but simply not governed at all.”
That is how ungovernable NYC liked it then -- and apparently still does now, having declared itself a sanctuary city; and thus, essentially free of following federal and state laws concerning immigration.
Wood sought to establish a slave city within a free state. He almost succeeded. While Wood failed in establishing a city separate from the rest of the USA, some American cities such as San Francisco and Miami have succeeded in so doing. By declaring themselves “sanctuaries,” dozens of American cities essentially have seceded from the Union and have created an ungovernable archipelago of city states within America.
The sanctuary cities have declared themselves above the rule of law and feel free to disrupt the national unity by setting themselves outside the law and federal governance -- all on the basis of supposed compassion for the alien, when it is clear some of the underlying and murky motives include vote getting and cheap labor.
The map below indicates the location of sanctuary cites, which comprise an archipelago of blue in a sea of red.
One is reminded of Italian Renaissance city-states, which began as towns demanding self-rule and which gradually evolved into city-states encompassing a city, the surrounding towns and countryside. The city-states conducted their own trade, collected their own taxes, and made their own laws. Wealthy families such as the Sforza family of Milan and the Medici clan of Florence ruled with iron fists. No rivalries were permitted.
It is not too much to say that almost universally Democratic rule of sanctuary cities such as New York City are nearly as iron-fisted and as effective as that of House of Medici. No rival parties were and now are tolerated, and the citizens of the city are bound hand and foot by the decrees of the Democratic rulers. Patronage ensures continued rule as well as continued corruption, just as the House of Tammany did in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
The one way or the highway mentality of today’s so-called sanctuary cities has been extended to colleges and universities, which are fast seeing the disappearance of free speech in favor of leftist Newspeak advanced under the banner of transgenderism and sanctuary policies regarding non-citizen students.
This is to say nothing of the ideological secession of states like California, which is seeing some call for the entire state to become a sanctuary state. That declaration of intent by some of California’s legislators is also essentially a call for secession from the rest of America. Most certainly, it is a call for police to disregard immigration status as well as a call to shun federal law and the status of its own citizens.
The upshot is that sanctuary cities and states are essentially a new confederacy rising in the midst of a formerly United States.
Behind the fervor of sanctuary advocates exist crucial ideas similar to those of zealous secessionists of the pre-Civil War era. Basically, those committed to sanctuary cities and states are devoted to the abstract ideas of a new kind of order, a far country not yet actualized. Abstract theory about what a future world should look like is diametrically opposed to the current constitutional order, the checks and balances and the distinction between citizen and non-citizen provided by the present workable, but imperfect system of our Republic.
Utopia beckons. In a world in which everybody belongs to everyone else and in which aliens have the same rights as citizens, a dream of the whole world singing in perfect harmony outweighs the nitty gritty realities of real governance. What exists is to be destroyed for the sake of theoretically perfect justice and equality that sanctuary entities will supposedly provide. It is considered better by far to ally one’s self and one’s cities and states to a new world order without the distinctions boundaries -- one chief reason a border wall is so ardently opposed. We will be better off in a brave new world without borders and without constraints of national laws. Heaven will come down to earth.
But utopian abstractions always have a way of failing. That is because the frailties, vagaries and corruptions of human nature are not taken into account in utopian theories. Theory does not match actuality. The idea of another, far country fails in light of societal breakdown and the very real problems of criminality.
As Confederate President Jefferson Davis wrote, “If the Confederacy fails, there should be written on its tombstone, ‘Died of a theory.’
The confederacy did indeed die of a theory, but not before the nation was rent asunder and hundreds of thousands died for a doubtful cause. Sanctuary cities and states must die by their theories as well, or the union will die along with them.
In one of his most famous speeches, Lincoln noted the continual agitation and roiling of the nation over slavery:
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.
I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.
I do not expect the Union to be dissolved -- I do not expect the house to fall -- but I do expect it will cease to be divided.
It will become all one thing or all the other.
Either the opponents of slavery, will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new -- North as well as South.”
America finds itself in a situation similar to that of the pre-civil war era due to the question of immigration: either the Republic will be united in favor of citizens governed by constitutional law; or it will succumb to the idea of sanctuary lawlessness at the expense of citizens.
America cannot have one set of rules for citizens and one for noncitizens without severe damage to her house. She cannot remain divided without endangering her foundations.
All people of good will wish to see a just and equitable solution to the immigration problem, one that is right for those who are immigrants and those who are citizens.
Sanctuary states and cities, which invite civil disobedience, rejection of the rule of law and insertion of disunity into the body of the Republic, are not the answer.
Fay Voshell is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. She holds a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, which awarded her its prize for excellence in systematic theology. Her thoughts and opinions have appeared in numerous online publications, including CNS, National Review, The Christian Post, RealClearReligion and Fox News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org