Sanctuary cities: The costs to taxpayers

The ensuing and seemingly inconceivable basis surrounding the “Sanctuary City” concept is being hotly debated, and one perspective not being discussed has far-reaching economic consequences: Liability and costs to taxpayers.


Simply, each Sanctuary City opening up its municipal borders, effectively granting amnesty to those who have crossed national borders illegally, is tantamount to willingly inviting culpability and, hence, accepting liability. Lawsuits alleging government accountability and liability have already surfaced, one having been filed in a 2015 San Francisco incident.

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“Help Me, Dad”

The Kathryn Steinle case glaringly demonstrates how this refuge trend can go horribly awry, underscoring threats to personal liberty in San Francisco. Steinle was walking with her father on a San Fran pier when an illegal immigrant shot and killed her. The murderer, whose convicted felon pedigree is appalling, was deported five times and was nevertheless walking freely among American citizens. While the illegal immigrant shooter enjoyed his sanctuary, he severed Steinle’s.


At the core, San Francisco politics opted to sever any compliance with U.S. immigration laws. Instead, the city created a cocoon for illegal immigrants. Consequences pervade, with many lives lost to violent immigrants who soil American soil.

And San Francisco continues to play a complicit role.

As Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy echoed in Congressional hearings, “But I swear, when I hear the term ‘Sanctuary City’…the only sanctuary it ought to be is for law-abiding citizens…” Jeh Johnson, then-Secretary of Homeland Security, quietly listened. Highlighting the Sanctuary City dilemma, Gowdy posed to Johnson: “How in the hell can a city tell you ‘no’?” And the beat goes on.

Judicial Watch acquired information indicating soaring crime rates in San Francisco since availing itself as a Sanctuary City, turning a blind eye to federal code and violating Constitutional principles. Other cities followed suit.

Steinle’s father filed a lawsuit against the City of San Francisco, holding local government accountable for the preventable loss of his daughter’s life.

Adding insult to injury (homicide), San Francisco’s lawyers are fashioning to quash the lawsuit, standing by its Sanctuary City covenant. Another sad chapter for the Steinle family, and San Fran is still wielding the pen.

The city’s complicity will come with a hefty cost, and this is just…one…case.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee devoutly supports Sanctuary City solidarity, so much so that his City Hall creates its own brand of ID cards and provides them to illegal immigrants. Talk about thumbing your nose to the rule of law! Speaking of which, SF law enforcement figureheads reportedly stand with Mayor Lee and vow to uphold Sanctuary City policies and directives. Bowing to the whims of the local politicians, San Francisco Sheriff’s Department (SFSD) policy precludes its law enforcement officers from informing federal authorities about detainee statuses. Compounding the issue, SFSD is prohibited from inquiring immigration status, upholding San Francisco ordinances while circumventing the U.S. Constitution. The federal/local law overlap is ongoing and contested by both sides.

Stephen Owsinski is an OpsLens Contributor and retired law enforcement officer whose career included assignments in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Field Training Officer (FTO) unit. He is currently a researcher and writer.

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