Sanctuary cities send bad message
In the early evening of July 1, my husband and I found ourselves at a lively pub in San Francisco’s financial district. Surrounded by hundreds of friendly Canadians, we celebrated our nation’s birthday by donning red and white, drinking Canadian beer, and indulging in maple-glazed donuts and greasy poutine.
A few blocks away, Kate Steinie, a 32-year-old tech professional and her father took a stroll along San Francisco’s picturesque waterfront. Seemingly out of nowhere, Steinie was shot dead. The shooter is an illegal immigrant from Mexico; a man deported on five previous occasions.
He shot Steinie in a drug-fuelled state, for no reason whatsoever.
The backlash has caused a frenzy. Americans are furious that an illegal immigrant – a man deported multiple times with multiple felony charges – was back in the United States and able to shoot an innocent stranger. It is unfathomably irresponsible that such a man was roaming the streets of San Francisco, in possession of a handgun no less.
The terrible incident has sprung a national debate on immigration.
Many in particular have criticized San Francisco’s status as a “sanctuary city,” that is, a city that purposely does not enforce national immigration laws and acts as a “safe space” for undocumented illegal immigrants.
Toronto is also a so-called sanctuary city. It provides taxpayer-funded city services to anyone who wants them, no questions asked. The recipient could be a vacationing Swede or a wanted war criminal; regardless of status, they will receive the same rights and privileges as a Toronto resident.
The sanctuary status is largely symbolic, however, since most immigration and social services fall outside the jurisdiction of the municipal government.
Regardless, when Toronto undermines Canada’s immigration laws, it tells would-be immigrants it is okay to break Canadian laws.
It weakens the value of our citizenship in Canada.
Canada also faces the problem of deported criminals who return using fake passports or new aliases.
Take the case of Edmund Ezemo, a Nigerian man who has been deported at least eight times from Canada. In 2008, he was charged with 26 counts of fraud after the police broke up a large criminal ring thought to have stolen tens of millions of dollars. Ezemo is presumably back in Nigeria and no doubt scheming about how to get back into Canada.
This is not an isolated case. Anthony Hakim Saunders has been deported ten times on convictions ranging from drug trafficking to assault. Dale Anthony Wyatt has been removed from Canada on four occasions and convicted of possessing illegal weapons and selling drugs. Erson Laign and David Wilson have deported three times and convicted of armed robbery and kidnapping.
They became known as the “yo-yo bandits” because they keep coming back.
Ever year, the government deports thousands of bogus refugees and criminals. According to the latest figures, taxpayers spend nearly $100 million each year on deportations and removals.
While the vast majority of immigrants to Canada are honest and hardworking, there are many people around the world who see Canada’s immigration system as a weakness. Canada should welcome people who work hard and play by the rules, and say no to dangerous criminals and fraudsters.
We certainly shouldn’t send a mixed message by saying it’s okay to be illegal.
Sanctuary cities trying to protect vulnerable people often end up harbouring and enabling criminals. The sooner we realize the glaring contradiction, the sooner we can prevent terrible tragedies like the one that occurred on Canada Day in San Francisco.