Making Your City a Sanctuary City
America was founded on the promise of a better life, on people from all over the world coming to America to flee persecution, tyrannical governments, and to fulfill the American dream.
Yet we are breaking this promise everyday as our immigration system tears apart families, upends communities, and destroys lives. Immigration is overseen by our constitution through the federal government. However, our cities are the frontline enforcers of these laws, which require city police to turn in all fingerprints to the FBI for routine checks to ensre they aren’t wanted on a federal level.
During these routine checks the FBI will route the fingerprints to ICE (customers enforcements) who will run background on the arrestee, and if they are found to be an undocumented immigrant they will request they are held for pickup or transferred to their facilities. They then deport them from their families and back to their country.
Your city should simply refuse to hold their arrestees until the federal government can pick them up. Many cities have drafted laws that state that they will not hold any person for longer than local laws say unless they have committed a serious crime. There is no law that states you must cooperate with the federal government. In fact, the 10th amendment to the constitution makes clear that the federal government cannot force local agencies to implement their regulations.
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Video: Trump’s Attack on Sanctuary Cities, Explained
Not enforcing immigration laws erodes the rule of law. It leaves the cities that allow it havens of crime, and forces the police to re-arrest criminals time and time again, taking them away from keeping our cities safe.
Becoming a sanctuary city makes our city safer. It ensures that undocumented residents are able to work with police without fear of deportation, ensuring real criminals are kept in jail and off of our streets. In fact, research has shown that so called “sanctuary cities” are both safer and have less poverty.
How To Pass It
Police departments operate under the watch of the mayor or city council. These city bodies may dictate what policies the police department follows. The city council should simply follow the models of Los Angeles, Ithaca, New York, and others that have become sanctuary cities. Your city commission should vote on an ordinance to refrain the police from unnecessary measures concerning an individual’s immigration status.”
Sheriff’s, on the other hand, are popularly elected by the citizens and thus are not under the watch of city commission. Because of this they can unilaterally decide to not cooperate with ICE, as Austin Texas’ sheriff did in 2017, but are also more difficult to lobby if the sheriff isn’t inclined to do so. If they aren’t inclined to do so your city and county may pass resolutions claiming your city as a sanctuary city and urging the Sheriff to coordinate with local efforts as was done in San Francisco.
What You Can Do
First research whether a sanctuary city policy is on the books in your city. Many cities have recognized that these policies drastically improve public safety, and even many conservative cities have passed them. If you do not, you should be able to press for one fairly quickly. This is not a large policy change, and should not take months of discussion like other policies would. Simply find a sympathetic city commissioner, convince them to take up this cause, get it on the agenda, and bring lots of people to public comment to speak in favor of it.
- Limiting Entanglement With Federal Immigration Authorities Fact Sheet – Local Progress
- Fact Sheet on Sanctuary Policies and 8 USC 1373 – ILRC
- Legal Analysis of ICE Detainers – ILRC
- Economist Explains: What Are Sanctuary Cities? – The Economist
- The Law of Sanctuary Cities and Trump’s Executive Order – Lawyer 2 Lawyer Podcast
- How Sanctuary Cities Work and how Trump’s Executive Order Might Affect Them – Washington Post