Attorney Eric Price
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What is a Sanctuary City?

  • a few months ago
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A sanctuary city or state is a jurisdiction wherein by law, state funds are reserved for state affairs and not used to enforce federal immigration laws. The power to regulate immigration is reserved to the federal government, as such sanctuary laws specify how state institutions, like the police force and the courts will act when dealing with a non-citizen and the extent of federal collaboration in immigration matters. When referring to a sanctuary city or sanctuary state many individuals automatically assume it means that within those jurisdictions it creates safe cities for illegal immigrants with criminal backgrounds. However, this is far from what a sanctuary city or state means. Immigration sanctuary cities or states refer to jurisdictions wherein by law, state funds are not used to enforce federal immigration laws.

How do Sanctuary Cities Work?

Every immigration sanctuary city or sanctuary state works within their own set of laws, as established by their jurisdictions. However, generally sanctuary cities in the U.S. allow for general detention of a non-citizen to the full extent of the state laws, but will refrain from dealing with immigration related matters. For example, a non-citizen is passing through a DUI-checkpoint where police are stopping drivers to check for signs of intoxication. A non-citizen, if stopped, in this scenario will be asked the same questions as any other driver and no inquiry will be made into their legal status. The police and courts in general would treat all individuals in their cities and states equally before the law without regard to immigration status. In effect, the sanctuary city in the U.S. would create a safe-space for immigrants to live, as opposed to a place where individuals will be targeted for being immigrants.

Benefits of Sanctuary Cities

Immigration sanctuary cities and states bring about many benefits, not only for non-citizens but for the jurisdictions and their residents. Sanctuary laws prevent undocumented individuals and their mixed status families from going underground, shielding cooperation with law enforcement and our state’s institutions as a whole. To foster a safe environment of collaboration and cooperation within the state’s institutions creates a safer and more functioning society.

Benefits for the Police

Immigration sanctuary cities benefit the police force as they can focus their work only on enforcing state laws and not the federal immigration laws. This creates an atmosphere of trust and cooperation within society and fosters an environment of participation as it creates a safe-space for non-citizens.

Benefits for the City

The city benefits from sanctuary laws in many ways. There are studies that show that immigration sanctuary cities have less crime. Additionally, because sanctuary cities in the U.S. foster an environment of less targeting of non-citizens, it eliminates that element of hiding and living under the shadows, creating a larger work force and in effect a stronger economy.

Benefits for Immigrants

The benefits for non-citizens are immense when they live in a sanctuary city or state. Because the state focuses on state-affairs, it removes that element of immigration enforcement and creates a safer society for immigrants. The fear of being profiled and targeted is less as non-citizens participate in state affairs freely.

Sanctuary Cities and the Trump Administration

The Trump administration is vehemently opposed to Sanctuary cities and state’s like California. In the past, the Trump administration has threatened sanctuary cities in the U.S and states with stripping federal funding. Although the courts have disagreed with placing a contingency on providing federal funds to immigration sanctuary cities, they have not stopped there. The Trump administration is currently suing the state of California for establishing a sanctuary state attempting the abridge the powers of the state and their rights. Their goal is to deport all immigrants without regards to enforcement priorities, and Sanctuary cities in the U.S. are a barrier to that plan.

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