Tom Cotton likens sanctuary city mayors to secessionist Senator John Calhoun

DCNFWill Racke, DCNF

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf(AP Photo/Ben Margot, FIle)

Sen. Tom Cotton reached deep into American history for his latest criticism of pro-sanctuary city Democrats on Thursday, comparing them to a pre-Civil War senator who argued states could declare federal law null and void.

The Arkansas Republican said Democratic lawmakers who support sanctuary policies are in the same category as John C. Calhoun, the South Carolina senator and vice president who did more than any other antebellum politician to advance the nullification doctrine and the cause of secession.

“Democratic politicians who defend sanctuary cities are the true heirs of John C. Calhoun’s nullification doctrine,” Cotton tweeted Thursday. “Not good company to keep.”

Cotton’s comments were in response to Oakland, Calif., Mayor Libby Schaaf, who tweeted Saturday about an impeding operation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to arrest illegal immigrants in the San Francisco Bay Area. Schaaf, a Democrat, said she had learned from multiple sources that immigration agents would be making arrests “starting as soon as within the next 24 hours” and urged illegal immigrants to take precautions to avoid detection.

Schaaf’s warning outraged federal officials, who accused her of coming close to obstruction of justice. ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan told Fox News that her Twitter message was “beyond the pale” and compared her to a gang lookout.

The ICE operation netted about 150 illegal immigrants, but Homan said Wednesday that 800 “criminals” avoided detection in part because of Schaaf’s warning.

In comparing Schaaf to Calhoun, Cotton likened local interference in immigration enforcement operations to the nullification doctrine, which holds that states have the right to invalidate any federal law they find unconstitutional. Calhoun advanced the doctrine in response to a federal tariff favored by Northern states, which Calhoun believe exceeded the authority of the federal government.

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