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By Harold Pease, Ph. D

The recent brutal rape of a 19-year–old woman in Burien, Washington, a Seattle suburb, declared a sanctuary city, has refocused attention on the constitutionality of a city protecting an illegal alien. The Constitution should have protected her.

But the issue is complicated by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created in 2012 by executive order by then President Barack Obama.

Constitutionally only Congress can make law (Article I, Section 1). Executive orders that have the force and effect of law are entirely unconstitutional; otherwise our separation of powers philosophy is seriously damaged.

In response, former Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, merely issued memos to border agents to not enforce immigration law on under-aged illegals crossing the border and those who were under 31 when the memos were sent. DACA allowed deportation to be deferred for two-year intervals, which could be renewed endlessly as long as illegals obeyed the laws of the land. If school aged they were expected to remain in school, if adults they were provided a work permit. Congress passed none of this and thus it encouraged evading existing law. Sanctuary cities help illegal immigrants evade the law by not enforcing it within their jurisdiction.

Those supporting the Constitution must oppose made-up law by a single person regardless of political party or personal agreement with the action. That is how law and order breaks down and chaos, even revolution, results.

The brutal rape leaving a young woman bloodied with missing teeth, a dangling ear and a broken jaw was reportedly committed by a 23-year-old illegal immigrant with DACA status. The aggressor and victim lived in the same complex but did not know one another. It was a clear act of unprovoked aggression. As a result the city of Burien is moving to revoke its sanctuary status.

Separation of powers with one body making the law, another enforcing it, and a third adjudicating it, is the most basic principle of the Constitution. In it “all” federal law originates with and is processed through Congress with the President having only the authority to sign or veto law made by Congress and thereafter obligated to enforce all law processed in the same manner, whether he agrees with it or not. In every presidential inauguration we listen to him pledging by oath to be obedient to it: “I do solemnly swear…that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” (Article II, Section 1, Clause 8). Making his own law, or refusing to enforce existing law coming through the same process, are grounds for impeachment.

Moreover every public servant, state or federal, judicial or legislative, including city council persons, swear an oath “to support this Constitution” (Article VI, Clause 3) thus they, by refusing to support, are defiant to the document and should be removed by their constituents (even share some responsibility for the rape and beating). If they refuse to remove those not supporting the Constitution they too stand defiant of it. This issue is that clear.

But these are not the only parts of the Constitution that are damaged by the sanctuary city philosophy. Article VI, Clause 2 states: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof…, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound therein…”   And, as mentioned, city officials are pledged to support the Constitution. Article I, Section 8, Clause 4 states Congress shall have the power “to establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization…” Only the federal government can make immigration law. Sanctuary cities have no constitutional base. Clause 18, of the same section, states Congress shall have the power “to make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.”

The supreme law of the land for immigration is called the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Section 274 of this titled—Bringing in and Harboring Certain Aliens—requires fines and/or imprisonment of anyone who aids and abets illegal aliens.

Any person who “knowingly” attempts to bring in an alien, has knowledge of, attempts to transport an alien within the U.S., “conceals, harbors, or shields from detection, or attempts to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection, such alien in any place, including any building or any means of transportation; …shall be punished.” Punishment is “for each alien in respect to whom such a violation occurs.” All offenses bring a fine “under title 18, United States Code” and/or imprisonment ranging from 5 to 20 years depending upon the seriousness of the offense. If the alien’s presence “resulted in the death of any person” those assisting his presence in the U.S. can be fined, and/or, “punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.”

In the case of the rape and beating of the young woman in Burien, Washington, wherein the alien causes serious bodily injury … or places in jeopardy the life of, any person,” city officials assisting his presence could be fined, and/or, “imprisoned not more than 20 years.”

Dr. Harold Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 30 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit