The Rising Cost of Political Theatre
THE RISING COST OF POLITICAL THEATRE
By Chairman Alexander Bush
“The safety of the people should be the highest law – it is a just and fundamental rule. Those who sincerely follows it cannot dangerously err.” – John Locke, Two Treatises of Government
The last year has been a bad one for Montgomery County. Whenever we are in the national news, it’s never for something good.
This summer, County Executive Marc Elrich proudly announced the most restrictive policy on non-cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the D.C. metro area. It didn’t matter to him, or to the County Council, that they were making a clear statement that – for people here illegally and who intend to commit serious crimes – Montgomery County is the place to be.
When confronted with a child (one of many) victimized by this policy, the County Council issued a statement, “we will ensure that the victim and her family receive the assistance and necessary support to overcome this tragic event in their lives”. Perhaps if they had not joined Mr. Elrich in proudly and publicly declaring Montgomery County a sanctuary for her attackers, this would never have been necessary.
But if broken lives weren’t enough to motivate our elected officials … will money be enough to motivate them?
What am I talking about?
Just last week, the Trump Administration won a major victory with decision by United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The question was whether the Department of Justice could withhold grant money from States and “sanctuary cities” which refuse to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.
Now – in the 2nd Circuit at least – The Justice Department is free to require grant applicants to certify that they will (1) not prohibit communication of citizenship and alien status information with federal immigration authorities; (2) provide federal authorities, upon request, with the release dates of incarcerated illegal aliens; and (3) afford federal immigration officers access to incarcerated illegal aliens
This wasn’t always a starkly partisan issue. Even Senator Feinstein (D-CA) once said, in a Senate hearing back in 1994, she would not support providing immigration-related grants to “States and local governments that declined to cooperate in enforcement of [federal immigration] laws”.
The grants in question are called Byrne Grants, and are named after for New York City Police Officer Edward Byrne who, at age 22, was shot to death while guarding the home of a Guyanese immigrant cooperating with authorities investigating drug trafficking.
Last years, these grants provided more than $250 million in federal funding for State and local criminal justice efforts. In Maryland, this money is used to provide body armor to local law enforcement, fund sexual assault kit testing, pursue internet crimes against children, and many other things.
Will Montgomery County’s policies risk the funding for itself and the rest of Maryland? Maybe. And if it does, we will get to see if money matters more to our elected officials than innocent lives do.