The Madera Unified School District would appear to be getting ready to turn Madera schools into sanctuaries for illegal immigrants, and you can see why some people might think that’s a good idea. It’s being done in San Francisco, after all, why not here in little old Madera?
After all, the Supreme Court ruled that the public schools have an obligation to educate the children of illegal immigrants, and that is being done.
But do the schools also have the obligation to break the law if the federal government decides to enforce immigration laws?
Homeland Security, which includes the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, has an obligation to enforce laws against illegal immigration. That includes picking up and deporting people who are here illegally.
It is unfair and even ridiculous to turn the public schools into places of refuge for illegal immigrants, who at some point in their lives have to face the music for breaking immigration laws.
Public schools, which also are public agencies, have no obligation to suddenly decide that the nation’s immigration laws shouldn’t be enforced. And it probably is illegal for personnel of those schools to stand in the way of federal agencies enforcing the laws of the land.
For example, if you interfere with agents of the FBI doing their jobs, you can be charged with obstructing justice and thrown in jail.
Likewise, if you are found obstructing the work of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, you could be found guilty of obstructing justice, and if found guilty put behind bars.
Suddenly, someone who was teaching school or working as a crossing guard, or a cafeteria cook or an administrator could find himself or herself kissing his or her job goodbye, because being found guilty of a federal crime disqualifies most people from public employment.
And these school employees, or former school employees as they may become, shouldn’t expect much sympathy.
President Obama, who has shown no shortage of deference toward illegal immigrants, nevertheless has deported millions of them since he became president.
But the perception of the public is that he hasn’t done enough — which was one reason Donald Trump was elected to succeed Obama. Trump promised to be even harder on illegal immigration.
If Trump keeps his promise, it’s highly unlikely he will be less tough on illegal immigrants than his Democrat predecessor has been.
These so-called sanctuaries would be laughable if they weren’t cruel. They hold out hope for undocumented immigrants that their crimes against the United States will be forgiven.
That has happened in the past. During the Reagan administration, many undocumented immigrants took advantage of an amnesty period that was made available for those who wanted to do the work necessary to become citizens. But many who were eligible chose instead not to put in the effort necessary to become Americans.
Instead, they chose to remain criminals, assuming they would be offered other chances at amnesty, and probably eventually be given citizenship just for signing on the dotted line.
That didn’t happen.
I know many people, residents of Madera, who are immigrants who have become citizens, and they are hard workers and good neighbors.
But those who can’t be bothered are less inclined to be good citizens and more inclined to wind up in jails or on the welfare rolls.
That is why the American public expects its immigration laws to be enforced.
That public is unlikely to have sympathy for school employees who try to take the law into their own hands.
By the way, Congress has the power to change immigration laws if the public demands it. But the demand right now is for more enforcement, not less.
It’s cruel and a bit meaningless to force public school employees to stand between the law and the lawbreakers.