5 Things to Know About Sanctuary Cities
by Hardeep Chawla
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What is a Sanctuary City? What does it mean? And how does it affect me? Here are 5 points to help you navigate through the muddy water of politics as the term is being thrown about by those on both sides of the aisle.
- What is a Sanctuary City?
In short, a Sanctuary City is a city viewed as lenient towards illegal immigrants. The United States Immigrations Customs and Enforcement Agency (ICE), uses the term “Sanctuary City” to describe cities, counties, and states that “have laws, ordinances, regulations, resolutions, policies, or other practices that obstruct immigration enforcement and shield criminals from ICE.” How does it do this? By blocking the police or sheriffs from telling federal authorities about undocumented immigrants in their custody, by forcing city officials to withhold information from the Department of Homeland Security about a person’s immigration status, by declining to cooperate with the federal government in efforts to track and deport undocumented immigrants, or by limiting how much the local police can cooperate with federal immigration agents. Most concerning is that fact that Sanctuary Cities refuse to honor detainers placed against convicted criminals who are illegal in their jails, choosing to release them back to the community instead of turning them over to ICE for deportation.
- Are Sanctuary Cities legal?
No. Regardless of the spin placed upon this issue, Sanctuary Cities are in direct violation of Federal Law 8 USC section 1373. This law prohibits any agency from restraining the exchange of information among federal, state and local agencies regarding the immigration status of any individual. Officials who knowingly harbor, conceal or shield, from detection, illegal aliens are also in violation of Federal Law 8 USC section 1324.
- What is Trump doing about Sanctuary Cities?
The Trump administration has been taking a lot of flak for threatening to deny funding to Sanctuary Cities not in compliance with federal law. Interestingly enough, however, it was the U.S. Department of Justice, under Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who warned sanctuary cities that they risked losing Justice Department funding in 2017 if they failed to comply with federal law. In February 2016, Texas Representative John Culberson (R-TX), announced that he had reached an agreement with outgoing Attorney General Loretta Lynch to block federal law enforcement grants to jurisdictions with sanctuary policies. President Trump, along with Congress, is following up with the threat with these proposed bills: The Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act, The Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act, The Mobilizing against Sanctuary Cities Act, and the No Transportation Funds for Sanctuary Cities Act. In short, President Trump was elected to alleviate the illegal immigration issue and he, and his administration, are following up on that campaign promise.
Furthermore, ICE has been releasing a Weekly Declined Retainer Outcome document which details the counties not in compliance with federal law and the crime committed by the illegal criminal. You may the view the latest report here: http://cis.org/sites/cis.org/files/ddor2017_01-28to02-03%20(1).pdf
- How many Sanctuary Cities are there?
I chuckled at an article in the Washington Post dated July 2015, that stated there were “an estimated 60 sanctuary cities around the country.” In fact, there are over 633 counties that limit how much the local police can cooperate with requests from federal authorities to hold illegal immigrants in detention. Here is the map to see if your county is one of them.
- What’s the big deal about Sanctuary Cities?
Attorney General Jeff Sessions warned, “Failure to deport aliens who are convicted of criminal offenses puts whole communities at risk, especially immigrant communities in the very sanctuary jurisdictions that seek to protect the perpetrators.” Several high profile crimes have been committed by illegal aliens, known to officials but shielded by their Sanctuary City status, which has the nation’s attention.
The rape of a young girl in a Maryland high school boys’ bathroom by two illegal immigrants, is the latest in a long line of crimes committed by illegal aliens being protected in Sanctuary Cities. 2015 saw the gunning down of tourist, Kate Steinle, near Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, the murder of Mirta Rivera while she slept, the robbery and murder of Grant Ronnebeck, and the rape and bludgeoning of Marilyn Pharis. All four of these crimes were committed by illegal immigrants living in the U.S. despite their criminal record.
For each of these crimes that make the news, there are dozens more that don’t. ICE estimates that there are over 1.2 million illegal immigrants with criminal convictions living free in the U.S. This recent article did an excellent job further describing the issues we face in sanctuary cities: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/03/28/team-trump-cites-stats-anecdotes-to-show-dangers-sanctuary-cities.html
So there you have it. 5 things to know about Sanctuary Cities with actual laws, quotes, stats, and real life stories.