Last Updated on March 6, 2021 by Filip Poutintsev
Sanctuary city is a term given to those cities that harbor illegal immigrants by limiting their cooperation with the federal authorities. These cities go the extent of defying immigration enforcement to protect illegal immigrants from deportation and contributes in creating a less stressful living environment for them.
In early 2017, US President Donald Trump threatened to cut billions of dollars worth budget given to the sanctuary cities, stating that these cities are a direct violation of the federal immigration law. His actions raised a momentum of debates regarding whether any city should be granted the liberty to act as a sanctuary city or not.
In this article, we take a further look at how a sanctuary city functions and the advantages and disadvantages we face because of it.
Table of Contents
- Pros of Sanctuary Cities
- Cons of Sanctuary Cities
Pros of Sanctuary Cities
Life as an illegal immigrant comes with intense daily challenges. The policies of sanctuary cities contribute to making their life easier to some extent. Let’s dig further into how sanctuary cities create that positive environment.
1. Sanctuary Cities Creates Better Relationship Between the Police and the Immigrants
Suppose, you get arrested due to traffic violations. By law, it’s mandatory for the police to take the culprit’s fingerprint for verification by the FBI and then the International Custom Enforcement (ICE).
If your fingerprint matches as an illegal immigrant registered by the ICE, then they will ask the police to hold you for an extra 48 hours which is called a Detainers Request. When the local authorities follow this order, the chances of you being deported get elevated.
So, often the undocumented immigrants refrain from reporting crimes to the police even if they’re either the witness or the victim themselves, with the fear of exposing their status. Giving police officers a hard time whilst investigating.
The policy of sanctuary cities is a major factor that contributes to establishing a better work environment for the police. The policies don’t make it a compulsion for the offices to ask about the people’s immigration status. For instance, Washington DC doesn’t allow police officers to interrogate about people’s immigration status unless the investigation is related to their residency status, creating a better trust and relationship between the police and immigrants.
2. Creates a Safer Environment For Everyone
Studies suggest immigrants are less likely to get involved in crimes than native citizens. A study conducted at the University of California-San Diego by Tom K. Wong found that crime rates get lower if local authorities are less cooperative with federal immigration enforcement. And according to the npr.org, “counties that did not comply with ICE requests experienced 35.5 fewer crimes per 10,000 people than those who did.”
This indicates that sanctuary cities are a safe option not only for the illegal immigrants but for the citizens too. While these cities are a haven for undocumented people. At the same time, citizens are, also, benefited from the positive cooperative environment created through sanctuary cities.
3. They Protect the Undocumented Immigrants From the Federal Immigration Law
The federal immigration policy is partly partial. Why? Because even those immigrants raised since childhood can be forced to leave any time, regardless of their clean record. An often overlooked fact is that the taxes are being paid by the undocumented people. Yet, they are undeniably at the risk of deported at any time. Sanctuary city protects immigrants from this unjust law.
Cons of Sanctuary Cities
The number of sanctuary cities in the U.S is more than 500 thereby, the population of undocumented people is, also, high. With more population comes more diversified characters of people thus, more chances of crime, violence and illegal work. Here are the drawbacks of sanctuary cities:
1. Harbors Criminals and Creates a Dangerous Environment
Lifes of innocent citizens is put in danger by allowing criminals to enter. Moreover, Numerous gang members reside freely due to their policies. The safety of the citizens must be the top priority of the government. By overprotecting criminals, they’re increasing chances of crime and violence. Either, strict policies should be implemented or cops must be allowed to at least do some background checks on the suspected criminals.
For example, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez was an undocumented immigrant in the U.S who was charged with 7 felonies and was deported 5 times by the ICE. Yet, the ICE did not detain him from entering the country. In 2015, he murdered Katie Steinle and faced severe charges.
2. Investigation Get Tougher for Police
Investigations are arduous enough but the policies of sanctuary cities make it further burdensome. The illegal immigrants refrain from reporting to the police even if they’re victims or witnesses themselves with the fear of deportation. On top of that, criminals residing in the sanctuary cities mostly target immigrants, knowing that they’ll keep their mouths shut for their own sake.
Without any testimony from the witnesses, solving cases takes a longer time.
3. Sanctuary Cities violate Law
According to the US code 1373, ” a federal state or local government may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending, receiving from the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual. Thus, refraining from gathering information about the residency status is a violation of the law.
Sanctuary cities has come forth as quite a controversial topic in recent years. Some say harboring fugitives this way is a clear violation of the law while others claim protecting the marginalized group is not against the law. Even though the Trump administration is against the concept of sanctuary cities, the data are clear- crime rates are comparatively lower and economies are much stronger in sanctuary cities.