By Paul McNamara

In this Election Year, we have been hearing a rallying cry against so-called “sanctuary cities.” But this supposed outrage is a ploy, a distraction from the real work that needs to be done in our city.

Complex Problems deserve thoughtful, long-term consideration

Our immigration problem is complex, and as unpopular as this may sound, we bear some responsibility in its cause.

When you think about it, the term “Sanctuary City” has all the elements a weak politician needs. It connotes someone who has broken the law and then runs into the church claiming Sanctuary to avoid prosecution. If only that were the real problem we had.

We are not faced with hordes of criminals who want to convert a city into a church sanctuary to avoid prosecution. We are faced with hardworking people and families who escaped the poverty and criminality of their home country without the benefit of being a winner in our country’s immigration lottery. Or they did not have the means to obtain a student visa or find marriage to a citizen allowing a relatively easy naturalization.

If we are going to truly look for solutions, we must face some facts. Our neighbor to the south suffers the effects of our country’s insatiable desire for illegal drugs. It is a cartel and crime influenced country. Every parent, faced with those daily realities, would want their children to have a better life.

And of course, all of us have benefited from this desperation. We have employed immigrants as farm workers, care givers, day laborers etc. at the lowest wages, which allowed them to stay. And stay they have, not just this election year, but for generations – contributing to our communities as workers, taxpayers, volunteers, friends and neighbors.

We have allowed them to live in a legal limbo that has created families with mixed residency status. And now we have some leaders who think all we need to do is split the families, not worry about the economic engine they fuel, or the consequence to the family – often children, they leave behind.

They think they can simply load them up on buses and send them somewhere else. This will not solve ANY problems and it will create many, many more.

Even though statistics show that immigrants have a lower crime rate than those residents with citizenship, current leadership wants us to believe that this action will somehow make us safe and somehow everything else will remain normal. Their assertions defy logic. This is simplistic thinking that won’t solve anything, and it will – and already has – caused more problems in our city.

Scapegoating is Not Leadership

Scapegoating coupled with fear is a popular tactic with ineffective politicians. Point the finger at one group, blame them for some ongoing problems, and suddenly they appear to have found a convenient solution. Perhaps they are hoping that if enough emotions are riled up, residents will not even notice that there are dozens of other, more pressing issues that need attention. Perhaps they will not even notice that the mayor’s highly publicized gesture is outside the scope of city business and has been a tremendous waste of resources causing greater harm to the city’s already diminished reputation.

We do not need to play their shell game.

As a city of faith and values, we can see through these feeble attempts at scapegoating a segment of our society in order to score political points with a small group of people. Complex problems are not solved with simple solutions, especially if those simple solutions are not solutions at all.

These are hard topics to discuss, but we need to enter a dialogue about them that incorporates the impact of our decisions, and how our decisions define us as a community. We must come up with workable solutions that respect our fellow residents and work for our community.

As a starting point, we need a Mayor who knows he is not empowered to enforce immigration laws. Spending taxpayer time and money that will have no effect on this issue is a waste. It is a waste of taxpayer resources and shows a disregard of his office responsibilities. In the military, we call this a dereliction of duties.

We are better than this. We are a community. We need leadership that respects the ENTIRE community and looks for real solutions to our problems.

Paul “Mac” McNamara is currently running for the office of Mayor of Escondido. 


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