Alabama Gov. George Wallace in 1963 stood in the schoolhouse door of the University of Alabama, in defiance of federal law, to block the entrance of two black students. His allegiance to segregation outweighed his respect for federal law. A half-century later, Penn president Amy Gutmann - and other university leaders - are figuratively standing in the schoolhouse door, defying federal law by declaring themselves sanctuaries to protect students who are here illegally - the so-called Dreamers.
Temple, Penn State and West Chester have made no such declarations, but are being pressed by well-meaning but Ill-informed campus elements. Already declared as sanctuaries are Reed College and Columbia, Wesleyan and California State Universities. The academics are climbing on the bandwagon already crowded with numerous mayors, almost all Democrats, putting their warped ideas about "immigration" above their respect for federal law.
This is how the Civil War started.
OK, that's an exaggeration, but the principle is the same - the rule of law must be supreme. In regard to "sanctuary cities," President Obama said while we are a nation of immigrants, we are also a nation of law. Sanctuary cities fall outside the law.
Let's start with one loud, clear undeniable fact.
With two exceptions, no one has a "right" to be in America. The two exceptions: People who are born here, and people who have filled out the appropriate paperwork to allow them to live and work here.
The Inquirer on Wednesday quoted a Temple assistant professor of law saying, "I think it's really important that we make a public statement about how all members of the Temple family have a right to work and study and live without any sort of fear or intimidation."
There is no such "right." It is a figment of the prof's fevered imagination.
No one not born here has a "right" to be here. Period.
People who come here legally get that "right," but people who have broken our borders or overstayed their visas have no such right.
What sometimes gets overlooked in the debate is that even the "good, hard-working" illegal immigrants have no "right" to be here. They know it. That's why they remain in the shadows.
With universities getting ready to create their own immigration policy - just as Philadelphia has done, illegally - State Rep. Jerry Knowles, (R. Schuylkill), plans to introduce a bill next month that would withhold state funding from any university that declares itself a sanctuary campus.
"All we're requiring them to do is follow federal law," he told me in a phone interview. "Why should we give money to any institution that does not."
Since another bill aimed at illegal immigrants passed the House and Senate in October, Knowles believes his has a good chance of passage.
In the case of Penn, Knowles said, the veterinary school gets some state funding it would lose.
In the '60s the Democratic federal government rolled troops to enforce integration. In 2017, I don't count on the Republican federal government to use the military to force the so-called sanctuaries into compliance. Instead, President Trump will turn off the federal funding tap to force compliance.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement has a priority list of those for removal that is topped by foreigners here illegally who have already been convicted of a felony.
ICE asks to be notified when an undocumented felon is to be released.
Mayor Kenney's executive order prohibits, except in the most rare of circumstances, any cooperation with ICE. Mayors like New York's Bill de Blasio and Chicago's Rahm Emmanuel also have, in effect, set up their own immigration laws, nullifying federal law, just as George Wallace tried to do.
The truth is I have trouble getting anyone in ICE to go on the record blasting sanctuary cities because, frankly, they don't think the boss has their back. The boss is Obama.
That changes Jan. 20.
During his campaign, Donald Trump vowed to enforce immigration law. I believe he will do that. He said he will deport the estimated 11 million people here illegally. I doubt he will do that.
He also said his first target was going to be the 2-3 million undocumented criminals.
That number, according to Pew Research, apparently refers to 1.9 million immigrants with criminal records estimated by the Migration Policy Institute.
That is the perfect initial strategy - removing foreign felons. I am baffled by those officials - such as Kenney - who don't want these felons removed. It defies logic and puts U.S. citizens at risk.
If cities, counties and universities don't cooperate with the feds, that's when Trump takes out the money weapon and forces them away from the schoolhouse door.
Or tries to, anyway, to restore the rule of law.