A sanctuary city is one that has, either with a written policy or informally, made it known that it will not assist the federal government in dealing with illegal immigrants and their possible deportation. This has ignited debates on the pros and cons of sanctuary cities, especially when crimes have been committed by illegal immigrants.
City employees in these sanctuary areas are directed not to contact the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency when they become aware of an illegal alien in the community, according to the Sanctuary Cities website
In 1996, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act was passed. It called for local governments to cooperate with ICE, now under the Department of Homeland Security and the agency responsible for responding to illegal immigrants through detaining or deportation. Sanctuary cities have elected to defy the immigration act and refuse to cooperate with ICE.
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There are hundreds of sanctuary cities throughout the United States, many with written policies publically on file. Why would cities elect such a policy, especially in light of the illegality of their actions? Here are some pros and cons.
Cities that have decided to become sanctuary cities cite the following reasons:
Sanctuary cities protect immigrant rights. They improve relations between local law enforcement and the immigrant community, according to the Ohio Jobs & Justice PAC
. Illegal immigrants are more likely to work with law enforcement if they are not afraid of deportation as a result.
Sanctuary policies, especially those that are informal and not written or published, may improve relations with the immigrant community without causing the city to act in a blatantly illegal fashion.
Opponents of sanctuary cities offer the following arguments against the idea:
When officials or citizens refuse to report illegal aliens to ICE, repeat offenders may be released to commit more crimes instead of being detained or deported, according to USA Today
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Sanctuary cities are more attractive to illegal aliens, increasing the economic burden on the city to support the unauthorized alien population. According to the National Review
, half of the 41 million immigrants in the United States have settled in one of five metro areas: New York City-Newark, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami or San Francisco, all of which have sanctuary policies.
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