COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — Illegal immigration makes Bill Hartzell seethe. The memories are fresh from the afternoon in October 2013 when he saw his wife’s 93-year-old grandmother bloodied and unconscious, after being beaten and raped in her house by a 19-year-old Mexican who crossed the border and never left.
His outrage is driving Hartzell to vote in Monday’s Iowa presidential caucuses for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who has vowed to battle the “sanctuary cities” that refuse to help the feds deport illegal immigrants. Cruz has said that he would block these localities from receiving federal funds for law enforcement — an idea that makes perfect sense to Hartzell.
Except for when it applies to the place where he lives.
Pottawattamie County’s sheriff adopted a sanctuary policy in 2014. Hartzell knows the sheriff. He trusts the sheriff. And he is uncomfortable with how his county, which includes Council Bluffs, would lose at least a million dollars should a President Cruz carry out his threat.
“For us in Council Bluffs, it’s a little more tricky issue,” he said. “This isn’t San Francisco.”
With illegal immigration roiling the GOP electorate, the party’s presidential candidates have spent months blasting sanctuary cities as bastions of liberal naivete and bleeding-heartedness gone awry. No place symbolized this mind-set better, they have said, than San Francisco, where last year, 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle was allegedly murdered by an illegal Mexican migrant.
But there is an awkward, and unstated, element to the hostility toward sanctuary cities.