Chicago’s Governor announced recently that his city’s law enforcement officers would not enforce federal Immigration laws. Other cities in California had previously refused to recognize federal Immigration law, proclaiming themselves cities of refuge. This rebellion has a historical precedent, in Civil war times. The southern States believed the constitution left matters that were not specifically addressed in the Constitution to the states. When compelled to follow certain federal law, considered unauthorized specifically by the constitution, South Carolina seceded…from the Union. Civil war ensued; after about two years President Lincoln granted freedom to all slaves, thus bringing the issue of slavery into the Civil war. What is happening today is rebellion by certain cities, but likely supported by the effected states. However, the issue of illegal immigration is addressed in the constitution as a matter authorized to the federal governments jurisdiction, unlike many of the issues involved in the Civil war.
Since the Civil war, the Federal government has taken on many issues that should have clearly been a matter for individual states. For example, prohibition, although properly resolved by a constitutional amendment; granting marriage to same-sex couples, and/or abortion, where federal law dictates every detail to the states. If certain states or major cities within those states were to declare that they will not follow federal laws pertaining to abortion, how would the media characterize such behavior? In Kentucky one County official refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and she was put into jail until she agreed to comply. What action would the Federal government take if cities refused to allow abortions? Would they simply label the rebellious cities as cities of refuge for the unborn? When the Governor of Arizona wanted to take state action to curb foreign invasion into its border cities which was drastically increasing crime; the Federal Government sued and prevailed in prohibiting the state’s effort to protect its citizens. There is a clear precedent for the Federal government, supported by the constitution, to protect the nation from foreign invaders, yet no action is taken against politicians who publicly declare their rebellion.
Here is what Nehemiah described in his day: “Our kings, our leaders, our priests and our ancestors did not follow your law; they did not pay attention to your commands or the statutes you warned them to keep. Even while they were in their kingdom, enjoying your great goodness to them in the spacious and fertile land you gave them, they did not serve you or turn from their evil ways. But see, we are slaves today, slaves in the land you gave our ancestors so they could eat its fruit and the other good things it produces. Because of our sins, its abundant harvest goes to the kings you have placed over us. They rule over our bodies and our cattle as they please. We are in great distress.” (Nehemiah 9:34-37).