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Sanctuary: What it really means

There’s a moment in one of my favorite comedies, “The Princess Bride,” when the Vizzini character played by Wallace Shawn has said the word “inconceivable” for the umpteenth time. Mandy Patinkin’s character Inigo Montoya responds, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Which is what I want to say to every heartfree anti-immigrant person who uses the word “sanctuary” as if it were a curse word.

It doesn’t mean what you think it means in a legal context.

But before I get into that, let me ask a simple question. If your job description — the contract by which you conduct yourself at work said you were to perform x, y, and z duties for a, b, and c amount of compensation and benefits, would it not seem odd to you if suddenly you were tasked with additional duties that you were not trained to perform and without guidelines on how to perform them within the jurisdiction of local, state, and federal laws?

Every local law enforcement agency suddenly given the equivalent of a Hollywood Western’s deputy badge to become an immigration agent is facing just that. Sudden power for a job untrained for with unclear expectations. That’s not a recipe for disaster.

Essentially, what “sanctuary” means in this context is that immigrants regardless of status (undocumented, permanent residents, temporary visa holders, naturalized citizens) can report crimes they’ve witnessed or crimes against them without fear of reprisal by authorities rewarding their good Samaritan deeds with threats of deportation. Both studies and common sense demonstrate that someone in a precarious position is more likely to report a crime if the person can do so freely and without fear.

Not having sanctuary status means immigrants in this position historically have not reported crimes because it means coming out of the shadows and calling attention to themselves, leaving them vulnerable to both officials and perpetrators of crimes. This means anything from unscrupulous American slumlords not fixing their buildings, to American rapists and sex traffickers going unabated, and other exploitative crimes that harm both immigrants and citizens alike.

This is how “Sanctuary” in our coastal Californian cities works.

It means limiting the cooperation of immigrant witch-hunts with the relatively new agency, ICE. Immigration Customs Enforcement, which already has a track record of non-logical arrests of both citizens and immigrants regardless of status (they seem to shoot first and ask questions later — and a number of their arrests have been thrown out by federal judges). ICE is currently under scrutiny from both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for humanitarian violations.

“Sanctuary” does not shield immigrants of any status from local, state or federal laws and possible crimes. In the rare occurrence where an immigrant commits an actual crime (robbery or gun possession for example) —sanctuary does not shield them from either arrest or deportation.

So why all the fuss?

It seems particularly exhausting that we should be taking up the time of the Board of Supervisors with actions to get them to vote against California’s policy of sanctuary. Plumas County’s actual immigrant population is negligible. As of 2017, the county population is overwhelmingly 90.5 percent white citizens. Assume for argument’s sake that this 90.5 percent is all American born. That leaves less than 10 percent of the now 18,742 of the population of citizens a mix of Native Americans, (3.2 percent), and Latinos (African Americans and Asian Americans register in the 1 percent range in population).

That tiny Latino population is also mostly comprised of American citizens. So, those trying to pressure the Board of Supervisors to come out against  “Sanctuary” for Plumas County’s undocumented population is targeting something like — what — 60 people in the county, if that? I’m being generous here with the numbers. As a former English as a Second Language teacher whose program shut down because there wasn’t enough need for it, I’m not buying that we have a huge immigrant population. This anti-sanctuary fervor is probably directed toward 20 people. That’s a lot of resources, time, and energy to expend when we have way more pressing issues.

One of the reasons I love Plumas County is its combination of the “live and let live” philosophy so prevalent in Northern California — and its warm friendly community feel.

It’s not neighborly to be either mean, or vindictive. There’s no purpose to railing against a largely symbolic gesture — given that we do not have a sizeable immigrant population in the first place. And before anyone argues with me, no. A person of color in Plumas County, even if they speak with an accent, is probably an American citizen. Having an abundance of melatonin in one’s skin does not make one a foreigner in one’s own country.

While the Board of Supervisors could be a little more forthright in conviction in refusing to denounce sanctuary, they deserve applause and support for not traveling that dark and slippery road towards dehumanizing their fellow humans.

Thank you.

55 thoughts on “Sanctuary: What it really means

  • Agggg… really?
    People sneaking across the boarder entering the US illegally and using valuable local resources should be sent back and then given the opportunity to become a US immigrant the correct way like millions of US immigrants have done. You don’t reward people for breaking the law.
    The Dems expect these illegals to vote for them so it’s really all about votes and power…

  • Melanin is a pigment responsible for skin color whereas melatonin is a hormone responsible for the biological clock of the human body. This is the main difference between Melanin and Melatonin.

  • The author labels anyone disagreeing with unlimited, non quota specific immigration policy “heartfree”. Has she studied the global effect of refugee creation by economic and direct or proxy military means? Which is implemented on Central and South Americas? Or the cyclical effect of western countries creating endless war in the Mid. East and Africa, whereby refugees are created, then fast tracked to Europe? Is she OK with the fact that Europe will be be less than 50% white by 2025? The globalist policy of forced multiculturalism is in fact “heart free” to both refugee/ immigrants as well as to residents of the host countries.
    Maybe the “heartful” progressive author should look deeper at who she supports. They’re as “heartfree” as…

  • So what you’re saying is that in a sanctuary city criminals can now report criminals without fear of being arrested for being a criminal. Good job.
    What it means to me is that the brainfree author wants to put the burden and expense of allowing entry of ILLEGAL aliens into this country on the tax payers tab. We’ve been paying for it way too long. How is this even logical?

    • Illegal immigration is a misdemeanor, but you probably already knew that, lol.

      How does California “pay” for all these immigrants yet still maintain the fifth largest economy in the world?

      Also, a little off topic, but how does everyone like the Republican gas prices, hehehe?

      • @Taxpayer/voter…
        Never a good idea to make comments while impaired…

        • @Tax payer/voter

          Smokes Meth, Hails Satan and gets super obnoxious here.

          Total fail at telling the truth, just the way he is.

          Please, take some Midol and try to finish Hilly’s book.

      • “How does California “pay” for all these immigrants yet still maintain the fifth largest economy in the world?”

        It takes massive Federal funding, like grants, and the US deficit grows each nano sec.The federal gov gets its money from a private bank called the Federal Reserve, a bank of issue. The bankers are making ka-ching, as we go broke, and realists are painted as bigots and “heartfree”.
        Just as the author tries to make her argument as if Plumas County exists in a vacuum, you try to isolate the CA economy from the rest.
        See the big pic!!! America’s broke!!

        • Meanwhile, You never get anything right.

          Unlike Trump, California Pays Its Taxes – Mother Jones
          Mother Jones › politics › 2017/02 › calif…
          Feb 6, 2017 · An accumulation of data from various sources shows that California routinely pays more in federal taxes than it receives in federal spending. A 2015 study by the New York state comptroller found that in …


        • Actually the states that receive the most federal funding are the red states of the south. California is ranked 39 on one list and 43 on a different list. I looked it up because I didn’t know. I suspect you didn’t check but instead made it up. The most recent tax cuts are ranging from costing 1.5-2 trillion dollars. So what happens is when republicans are in office they raise the deficit and say it will boost the economy which is does not. And when a democrat is in office they typically lower the deficit as Clinton and and Obama both did all while the republicans scream how out of control the deficit is. The party that claims to be fiscally conservative is not b

          • But wait.

            Didn’t Obama raise the federal deficit 10 trillion dollars (doubled it) in just eight short years? Adding more to the federal deficit than all of the presidents before him combined?

          • Tiffany, actually Obama lowered the national deficit after inheriting a broken Republican economy and a four hundred billion dollar deficit, remember?
            I would suggest educating yourself on the difference between debt and deficit. Also the last president to leave a surplus was Clinton.


      • That’s easy.

        Screwed up roads, long lines at DMV., big dams that fail oh that list can go on and on!

        T’was the Democrats who put the last tax increase onto our gas prices. Another 12 cents to fund funny trains and unfunded pension obligations. Thought everybody knew that.

        BTW. folks are leaving, California is sixth largest economy now.


        • Exactly, when you give unprecedented tax breaks to the wealthiest and largest corporations of our country somebody has to make up for that. Once again it falls to the middle class to pay for the tax breaks for those that don’t need it. Don’t worry they will gut any programs that affect the poor so we need not worry about the peasants advancing.
          Looks like California is currently the 5th largest economy. Which puts it ahead of France, the UK, and India. Though W did his best to destroy our state economy we’re doing all right.

  • “While the Board of Supervisors could be a little more forthright in conviction in refusing to denounce sanctuary, they deserve applause and support for not traveling that dark and slippery road towards dehumanizing their fellow humans.”

    For the record, Mike “dirty” Sanchez and Jeff “deplorable” Engel both voted to make plumas not a sanctuary county. I guess they don’t believe in state’s rights, sad. Kevin “toss” Goss couldn’t even be bothered to show up for the vote, but I’m sure he would have supported the other two bigots.

  • More ridiculous nonsense totally unrelated to reality.

  • Tax payer/voter always has an excuse for everything and everything has an excuse. 

  • I get it too.

    Don’t smuggle your kids into this country illegally and it’s no problem.

    • A huge majority of ‘these’ people are legally seeking asylum in America. Like the Nazis, Trump is disgustingly separating children from their mothers and fathers – a violation if international law.

      A well written article Ms. Wells.

  • Yes. Trump is following a federal law Bill Clinton signed back in the 90’s but was ignored by Obama. I like it when our presidents follow our laws.

  • It is called “The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.”
    If the truth hurts, this is going to kill some folks.

  • Thanks Jere C
    Most of President Clinton’s immigration policies focused on the problems of illegal immigration. A 1990 law had tried to fix some issues in the legal immigration system; once Clinton came into office, he focused on addressing the public fear of illegal immigration by putting limits on what illegal immigrants could and could not do.

    The result was a law called the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act of 1996. Immigration restrictions also came as parts of two other laws, plus several amendments also passed in 1996.

    When Bill Clinton wasn’t busy raping interns he took immigration seriously. These laws still stand and ICE is now using. Folks just got used to Obama’s do nothing policies. Not on…

  • The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 has nothing to do with “sanctuary” nor does it have anything to do with the Nazi and barbaric practice of separating children from their parent who are seeking legal asylum in America. This is a republican ‘family value’.

  • Read up, do your research before spewing untruths. You’ll be miles ahead there Mark.
    None of this is top secret you know. Or does it depend on what your definition of is is?

    Or perhaps CNN and MSNBC doesn’t tell you quite the whole story? Go figure.

    • Show me where in the law you stated where it permits children to be separated from their parents when they are seeking legal asylum. Also so me where in the law it deals with sanctuary.

      And I do not watch ANY cable news – I read real news from legitimate newspapers.

      Where did you get your ‘facts’? … from Fox News, Limbaugh, Hannity? … Exactly…

      Any why do you bring up Clinton, is is, etc, when you have a sexual pervert (grab them by the p-word) Trump as your president….

    • I’ll admit that I haven’t researched the above law but I’m inclined to believe it’s true.

      If it wasn’t, I’d think the ACLU. and scores of money grubbing lawyers would be all over the separation of children from their families with challenges and lawsuits. But I hear nothing but crickets out there… It wouldn’t be that way if the administrations policy did not comply with law.

      No reason to complain to us anyway, complain to your congress-person if you don’t like it.


      • Zack, please see posts below. But, please do some research on your own. And I post my comments to bring attention to people just like you who just think everything is normal – it’s not.

  • He’s your president too Mark. Give it a couple years and it might change but for now try to pay attention.

    I think Zach makes a good point above. Where are the legal challenges??

    Here’s your chance Mark. How about you post which immigration law or USC. you think is being violated? C’mon, show us what you’ve got and let us decide.

    And by the way, speaking as a woman… There is a massive difference between talking about grabbing a woman by their P**** and someone who actually sexually assaults and forcibly rapes women like Bill Clinton did.

    Your comment above truly makes you sound like a real pig troll. Can’t you see the difference? Are you proud of yourself?? Shame Shame on you I say!

    • Part 1: No, the severely mentally sick, racists, white supremacist, lying, fascists, Russian operative traitor Trump is not my or any normal persons’ president.

      Do you know how to do research or do you just rely on Fox News for your ‘information’? The ACLU has brought lawsuits on Child Separation from their Parents. It is against UN international law. A federal judge has refused to dismiss lawsuits on this matter stating Constitutional protection. And most importantly it is immoral and unethical and absolutely sink and evil for anybody to separate children from their parents.

      And typical, posters post things ‘assuming’ things are true that arn’t. This is the problem with some in America.

    • Part 2: The only reason Clinton is mentioned (by Fox News I’m sure) is to simply distract the lemmings and to bring it down to a third grade level of ‘well Clinton did something too’. We are not talking about Clinton.

      But since you decided to post a nasty comment about me personally (I can take it) I will reply. There are 18 or so women claiming Trump assaulted them. Trump apparently has committed Adultry with every one of his many wives. Such great ‘family values’ your president and party have… And Clinton was never charged or convicted of rape – so your statement is a lie.

      The real shame is Trump and the republican politicians.

      • Bam, got him right between the lies Maria great shooting!

        Mark, Clinton signed our current immigration policies into law. Where have you been?

        Calm down, Mark. President Trump is only here for 6 1/2 more yrs. Your showing hate as intelligence always proves a choice of stupidity. Oh BTW. the word “apparently” never has much punch. Translates into what appears to be. Not as fact.

      • Duh.
        Eighteen women? Where are they now?? Their stories quickly fell apart and several admitted they were given $10,000 to make the claim. Those Democrats aren’t a very trustworthy bunch.

        Clinton was impeached by Congress and disbarred, losing his law license for lying under oath. Kenneth Starr, think back… don’t you recall anything clearly?

        By the way, since when does UN law have any merit in the United States? If it’s actually going through the courts we will all eventually see what pans out. Till then, you’ve made your point and it seems like its lacking much support.

  • Ouch!

    Correct me if I’m wrong but non-citizens still do not share the same rights as citizens in this country.

    “Show me where in the law you stated where it permits children to be separated from their parents when they are seeking legal asylum. Also so me where in the law it deals with sanctuary.”

    Few states offer sanctuary. Federal law controls immigration not state law. Also if there isn’t a law on the books against something it’s usually considered legal. You’re asking for something that doesn’t exist no? I have to agree with Zack. No crime, no foul.

    You might not like it but that’s the way it goes. By the way, my family jumped thru all the hoops and legally emigrated to this country and I agree come here legally or…

  • That must be the reason flying saucers always land in your back yard.

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