Defining the Bounds of Sanctuary Cities

Defining the Bounds of Sanctuary Cities

As immigration has been one of the key issues at the forefront of the presidential election race, both candidates have referred to the existence of sanctuary cities in explaining their respective positions on immigration reform. While the left has embraced sanctuary cities as a valid exercise of local and state police authority to ensure safer communities, the right has characterized sanctuary cities as havens for protection for illegal immigrants that safeguard them from criminal prosecution. As a result, the right largely has vowed to block federal funds to local jurisdictions with sanctuary policies. A sanctuary policy is a rule that restricts local and state governments from notifying federal immigration authorities when they have contact with a person whom they believe may have no legal immigration status. In other words, if a police officer in a city with a sanctuary policy arrests an undocumented immigrant on theft charges, the officer will not then notify U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) so that they may detain the immigrant for purposes of deportation. Rather, the officer will simply process the immigrant for the theft charges, just as he or she would for any other individual. If the officer notified ICE of the immigrant’s release date, then ICE would take custody of the immigrant and detain him or her until they could determine the immigration status of the individual. Some communities have enacted sanctuary policies so as to promote trust and cooperation between local law enforcement agencies and encourage victims and witnesses of crimes to come forward without fear of deportation. Proponents of the policies also claim that it is the responsibility of the federal government to enforce immigration laws, and to expect local governments to do so is a drain on budgets that already are stretched thin. In a span of almost two years in 2014 and 2015, one researcher found that local law enforcement agencies declined over 18,500 ICE detainers. California was the state in which local authorities declined the largest number of ICE detainers, by far. However, researchers estimate that more than 300 local jurisdictions throughout the U.S. have sanctuary policies, including San Francisco, Boston, New York, and Chicago. Sanctuary cities exist in communities that wish to protect the rights of immigrants who have no legal status, but who are living in the U.S. Ultimately, however, any undocumented immigrant remains at risk for deportation if detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. At Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C., our skilled and knowledgeable immigration lawyers have the experience necessary to successfully defend you against removal. Our Bay Area immigration lawyers handle these types of cases on a daily basis and know how to best represent your interests so that you can remain in the U.S. with your family. Contact our office right away so that we can get started building a defense to removal on your behalf.
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