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On Sanctuary Cities
Commentary on the News
Friday, April 21, 2017
Alf Cengia

Since Donald Trump was swept into power, the immigration debates and accusations picked up several notches. The Trump administration and those who voted for him have come under fire for not caring about the welfare of immigrants, illegal or otherwise.

Closely associated with the immigration debate is the concept of Sanctuary Cities. What are they? According to Wiki:

In the United States and Canada, a sanctuary city is a city that limits its cooperation with the national government in order to help people who are in the country [to] illegally avoid deportation. Such people are frequently described as illegal immigrants or undocumented immigrants. (Emphasis mine)

In January 2017 The Washington Post published a helpful article on the debate concerning Sanctuary Cities. It too noted that:

Federal officials must rely on local police to help enforce federal immigration laws, but the law doesn't require local authorities to detain illegal immigrants just because their federal counterparts make a request. In fact, federal courts across the country have found complying with the requests is voluntary.

In at least one case, the battle between the Trump administration and the nation's Sanctuary Cities has escalated into the court room. In March 2017 the city of Seattle sued the "bully" administration over its order to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities. The city's Mayor said it was an "unconstitutional federal coercion" which threatened grants connected with items such as stemming "child sex trafficking."

Could the Mayor be resorting to emotional blackmail? In fact the Trump admin would be only too happy to assist Seattle's Mayor weed out sex traffickers. This is despite the media's apparent decision to ignore these government efforts.

Sanctuary Cities are high up on Social Justice Warrior programs. One politically spirited Sojourners article starts with a prayer: Lord, Prepare Us to Be a Sanctuary City. The writer states in part:

...let us remember that our allegiance is not primarily to this nation. Jesus himself said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Paul reminds us that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20), and though we are to respect earthly authority (Romans 13:1), when push comes to shove, “we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

Admittedly, there have been cringe-worthy statements on immigration made by some conservative Christians. Progressives are only too keen to paint conservatives in a terrible light. In many cases we seem happy to help them.

Should Christians gloat when thousands of faceless immigrants get deported? Do we really believe in a no-immigrant policy? No! Do we believe that illegal immigration should be stopped? Yes - for very real national and personal security reasons.

The context of Acts 5:29 was about preaching Christ, not resisting government law on immigration. Romans 13:1-3, 6 states that God has placed us all under governmental authority in civil matters.

For obvious reasons one doesn't indiscrimately invite total strangers to stay in their homes without conducting some preliminary background check. Nor do we allow strangers to enter our houses without permission. It makes sense not to trust a complete stranger with your young children or spouse. Likewise, a government has a duty to protect its civilians.

On Sanctuary Cities, Michael Cutler warned:

Not unlike the “No Go Zones” of European countries, these communities in the Unites States also tend to shield foreign nationals who may be fugitives from justice both inside the United States and in other countries....Implementation of sanctuary policies in such cities greatly exacerbates the threats posed to national security and public safety- turning those cities into magnets that attract still more radicals and fugitives and terrorists who need to “fly under the radar.”

The Old Testament also talks about Sanctuary Cities. They were Special Cities or Places of Refuge where certain people could flee to for protection. In Every Promise of Your Word, Rhett Dodson shows how God made provision for those who had inadvertently killed someone (manslaughter). See Exodus 21:12-13 and Deut 4:41-43.

Dodson cited the example of a friend who had left a prayer meeting late one night. On the way home the man accidentally struck and killed a teenager on a dark road. No one felt contempt for the man and nobody wanted to avenge the death - but what if that wasn't the case? In the days of Moses and Joshua God had to set a precedent and guideline for examples like that.

What is important to note is that the refugees to these cities weren't lawless criminals. Aside from their unfortunate predicament, they didn't import their own sets of laws and values into the city of refuge. As Cutler and others have warned, such isn't the case with high Islamic immigration over much of Europe.

Finally, the Sojourners writer mentioned that we are citizens of heaven. Heavenly Jerusalem is the ultimate Sanctuary City (Rev 21:2). Yet even our citizenship there is dependent on conditions which must be met first. We do not gain heaven on our own terms. We don't make the rules.

The only entry into the heavenly Sanctuary City is through faith in Christ our Lord. John MacArthur expresses it very well in one of my favorite videos Which Way to Heaven?

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. Matt 7:13

Have you entered through the Narrow Gate to the true Sanctuary City?

About Alf Cengia

Last week: Syria - Broken Beyond Repair

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