To many the North Shore is a beacon of sanctuary from the press and crowd of urban life, but at some point sanctuary ceases when more is expected of it than it is able to provide. It’s difficult to place mob and sanctuary on the same level.

On the other hand, at first view it’s not too hard to grasp the formation of refugee and immigrant places of sanctuary in contemporary America. As a nation we tend to be fairly open to outsiders and newcomers. Those we consider “native” have tribal roots. Being born in the US makes one no more than native TO America.  For most their status is immigrant either early or late. So, it’s not too hard to fathom sympathies leaning toward sheltering the “oppressed” from having to face the hard reality of being undocumented, illegal, or ineligible.  

It’s interesting that by the advocacy and creation of sanctuary cities and campuses the political left has taken to its heart a maneuver associated with religious authority at a time when a person fled to the church for shelter. In many if not most of those situations the individual claiming sanctuary faced immediate threat of death from a disgruntled enemy. Sanctuary allowed a person to remain alive to negotiate, explain, or expiate their problem. The sanctuary area was relatively small, basically the church nave, narthex, and side gallery. In plain terms sanctuary was seen as limited to hallowed or sacred ground. If you left sanctuary to go to the tavern you were no longer safe from detention or worse. When a US city, college, or university declares itself as a sanctuary this implies a quite large boundary, as you’d expect from a broad interpretation of human rights as not requiring formalities such as legal entry or Visa violations. The definition goes beyond broad when it includes as refugees in need of protection people who are essentially migrants. There are rules and categories that define these things. But the noble cause of being 100% for human rights is quite capable of setting such nit picking aside in favor of the good-good feeling of political and moral superiority rather like that when the church was supreme.

Of course it can’t be an attitude of superiority at work these days, not when the plan is generosity of intent so that others will like us and act suitably appreciative (a generally selfish motive if you think about it). With generosity of intent and action equally generous interpretation must follow. If we are intent on human rights and are liberally generous in our acceptance of who belongs in the US it follows that we should not be harsh and biased about other regulations and rules that are similarly discriminatory and fall heaviest on the disadvantaged. In this respect and regard I hope sanctuary cities and campuses will throw down the barriers that add restriction to those they are trying to help. These generous and open-hearted places can surely accommodate in their ranks, government, and classrooms those individuals who lack the ordinary paperwork that would certify them as qualified instructors or officers.

If we are to waive regulation on so important an area as residence and citizenship why insist on upholding requirements for drivers or truckers? If you can walk across a border or sit behind a wheel it’s all the same. If a downtrodden individual tells of having studied dentistry or medicine in their home area who are we to balk? This is especially so when we (some of us anyway) are being open armed and protectively providing sanctuary. If they say they are a refugee or are qualified in some area that seems to be plenty good enough to get by in a sanctuary setting. I’m confident the supporters of sanctuary movements have thought through the repercussions of open borders and open standards.

I would never in the world so much as suggest a thing wrong with the generous spirit behind sanctuary. What a wonderful offshoot of the Western Judea-Christian tradition it is. We have notable incidents of sanctuary success such as that leading, for example, to the eventual success of the Tudors in England. Being more generous and more ambitious our sanctuary goal goes far above aiding a single noble house. We apply the principle wholesale for thousands, tens of thousands, and millions over whom we can raise the sacred umbrella of sanctuary provided by the Holy State via city or campus. This is surely cause for immense pride and satisfaction, at least until the consequences roost in whatever form they’ll take as a result of having large numbers outside the system and free (in more ways than one) of  responsibility beyond the immediate.

I express some admiration for sanctuary systems and supporters and not only because not to do so (even here along the shore) opens one to accusation of racist, Nazi, or privileged white male. (I think I’d flop as an Asian female.) Against potent criticism a person has to bow today as was done long ago before the powerful hammer of church and nobility. The same patterns stir today. It does no good pointing out Fascist and Nazi were names given political movements by those following an agenda of supremacy and minority removal. A Nazi was a follower of National Socialism. That was before it became a convenient label to quash others as Nazis did with their opposition. But regardless, I am sincere admiring sanctuary for following the highly religious ethos of “Harden Not Your Heart” toward others. Worthy as that cause is it is not an absolute nor does it excuse excesses. Keeping religion out of politics is a smart approach, but a politic has a way of becoming a faith in itself. This has been a dilemma in public life for a very long time. The Roman state was also the core of Roman religious practice zealously guarded and fought over by contesting sides. Two thousand years later with different gods not much has changed.