Monday, September 18, 2017

Sanctuary State - Why It's Harder For Trump To Dominate US Than It Was For Hitler To Dominate Germany

Back in February I did a post called Structural Difference Between US and 1930's Germany That Makes It Harder For Trump which recalled the lessons I learned from my mother who grew up in Nazi Germany and how that helped me see, as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand, the stark differences between a centralized national bureaucracy and one where each state had significant independence from the capital.

Screenshot LA Times 9/17/17

Yesterday I was reminded of that lesson once again when I saw this headline for an LA Times story:  State to become a 'sanctuary'.

In a centralized bureaucracy like they had in Nazi Germany or have in Thailand, all government is controlled out of Berlin or Bangkok - education, police, health, everything.

But in the US the federal government is in charge of certain things and states have the power over everything else.  The Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution:

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
(Article 1 of the Constitution which enumerates the federal powers is not nearly as brief.)

Some of that state independence has eroded as Congress has, over the years, tied federal funding to compliance with the federal mandates.

But individual states, police departments, school districts, can risk the funding if they object strongly enough to the federal demands.  They can, essentially, tell the feds to go to hell.   In this sanctuary case they are telling state employees not to enforce (partially at least*) immigration laws because those are federal, not state, responsibilities.  And in this sanctuary case, it appears that so far, the courts have agreed with the states that the feds can't withhold federal funding to sanctuary cities.  (That's also mentioned in the LA Times story.)

Of course, states rights are a good thing when they protect what you feel is important, but not when they protect things to which you object.  The rights of African-Americans were horrendously violated in the post-civil war south through to Jim Crow and even after the civil rights acts of 1964, on the grounds of 'states rights.'  And the states that have legalized marijuana are improvising a tricky dance with the feds around conflicting laws.

But I'm pleased to see how many Americans are standing up for the rights of immigrants, particularly the DACA folks.  We've come a long way since Japanese-Americans, including US citizens, were incarcerated during WW II, with very little objection from the rest of the population.

*The new sanctuary law in California, the article tells us, does allow some cooperation, mainly regarding immigrants with criminal violations.

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