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Trump and the Battle Over Sanctuary in America

The concept of sanctuary cities is deeply embedded in Western tradition. In biblical times, shelter was offered even to those who might have qualified as “bad hombres” in the eyes of President Trump. Killers, for example. If the crime lacked intent, they could flee to havens specifically designated in Deuteronomy and the Book of Joshua.

Skip ahead 3,500 years or so and societally sanctioned refuge is proving as powerful a concern for Americans today as it was for the ancients. Sanctuary cities — and counties and states — loom large as Mr. Trump seeks to vastly expand and speed the deportation of undocumented immigrants while threatening to withhold federal money from localities that refuse to cooperate with immigration officials.

To switch the biblical reference point to Ecclesiastes, there is no new thing under the sun, certainly not in regard to sanctuary. Retro Report, video documentaries examining major news stories of the past and their continued relevance, begins a new series by recalling the so-called sanctuary movement of the 1980s, which put church and state in conflict with each other over the fate of Central Americans fleeing civil wars and pleading for asylum in the United States. Those refugees found President Ronald Reagan’s White House no more eager to open its arms than the Trump administration is now to embrace Syrians seeking shelter from carnage back home.

Read entire article at NYT