What Is A Sanctuary City?

In opposing President Trump’s immigration policy, the development of sanctuary cities across the United States focused on upholding the values of humanity. These include combating closed borders, deportation, and detention to promote the ideals of human rights. With several sanctuary cities available across the country, several cities pursue sanctuary city policies for various reasons. But what exactly is a sanctuary city? Read on to find out.

What is a Sanctuary City?

In a nutshell, a sanctuary city is where immigrants and vulnerable newcomers create safe spaces to rebuild their lives and communities. It entails a wide set of protections and humanitarian support city governments or churches harboring immigrants offer to prevent them from deportation. In most cases, a sanctuary city comprises a written or unwritten policy preventing local law enforcement from reporting immigrants.

However, the policy can be breached if the immigration status of an individual involves an investigation of a criminal offense or serious crime. A sanctuary city may sometimes go beyond a city and extend across the entire county or state that declares sanctuary status. As such, these communities discourage reporting or detaining undocumented immigrants within the sanctuary city policy.

Sanctuary States in the United States

With the term ‘sanctuary’ incorporating more than a city, several counties across the United States claim sanctuary county policies. Several states have also integrated these policies, considering their entire geographical area a sanctuary. Some of these states include;

  • California
  • Massachusetts
  • New York
  • Colorado
  • New Mexico
  • Washington
  • Oregon
  • Connecticut
  • Vermont
  • Illinois
  • New Jersey

In addition, some sanctuary states have designated certain counties to have policies to prohibit cooperation between local law and federal agents when engaging undocumented immigrants. This means a state may delegate a county to sanctuary county policy while leaving other areas unprotected from federal agents.

Functions of a Sanctuary City Policy

The primary function of sanctuary city policies is to acknowledge a series of issues involving undocumented individuals such as refugees. Here is an example of a series of instances an immigrant may experience and how a sanctuary city policy applies.

  • Initial contact with law enforcement: As the most common event among undocumented individuals, an immigrant or refugee can interact with a law enforcement officer. This initial contact may have nothing to do with an individual’s citizenship status.
  • Law enforcement detains an individual: A police detains the individual, books, and takes fingerprints at the local or county jail. These fingerprints often transfer to the FBI database as per protocol.
  • ICE gets involved: Since ICE regulations mandate state and federal agents to share inmate information, the individual’s details reach the ICE. ICE will send a request to detain the individual for 48 hours beyond the state’s release day and time. This period often allows ICE to seek a warrant of arrest and launch the deportation process.
  • Local authorities react: If the city, county, or state has a sanctuary policy in place, it will respond to secure the release of the undocumented individual.

Final Thoughts

Sanctuary cities involve places where local law enforcement only performs ICE duties with a local court order or warranty. These communities act as human rights and constitutional standpoints to protect undocumented individuals within their geographical areas.

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