Tags: sanctuary | cities | shield | immigrants

Sanctuary Cities: 200 Places Shield Immigrants in the US

By    |   Thursday, 09 July 2015 07:55 AM

After an undocumented immigrant killed a San Francisco woman last week, so-called "sanctuary cities" have become a hot topic of debate among lawmakers, but many people are unfamiliar with the issue and its terms.

What makes a city a "sanctuary" city?

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, more than 200 cities, counties and states across the US are considered sanctuaries. 

"These state and local jurisdictions have policies, laws, executive orders, or regulations allowing them to avoid cooperating with federal immigration law enforcement authorities," the center wrote in a July study.

"These [jurisdictions] ignore federal law authorizing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to administratively deport illegal aliens without seeking criminal warrants or convictions from federal, state, or local courts."

San Francisco, for example, passed a law in 1989 called the City and County of Refuge ordinance. That legislation has for decades prohibited city employees from assisting federal immigration enforcement unless compelled by court order or state law, CNN reported.

Many sanctuary laws were passed in the 1980s, when many churches and other organizations sought to provide safe harbor to Mexican and Central American immigrants fleeing violence at home. In some cases, local jurisdictions took such measures when the federal government refused to grant some groups formal refugee status.

Those in favor of sanctuary laws argue that they encourage law-abiding immigrants to work with the police without fear of deportation, while opponents say they provide safe havens for criminals.

Last week, an illegal immigrant, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, shot and killed San Francisco woman Kathryn Steinle, 32, as she was walking in public — a seemingly random killing. Lopez-Sanchez had a lengthy criminal history, and had been deported five times. Just this year, city police arrested him on drug charges. ICE wanted to take custody of him and deport him, issuing a detainer in March, however that was not honored by the city.

Steinle's death has brought together many lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, including presidential candidates like Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, and Hillary Clinton.

"The city made a mistake, not to deport someone that the federal government strongly felt should be deported," Clinton said this week. "So I have absolutely no support for a city that ignores the strong evidence that should be acted on."

Many critics of sanctuary cities say that the federal government should do more to enforce immigration law, however the Obama administration has essentially told federal bureaus to stand down.

"Although federal law requires the cooperation, the Department of Justice has never sued or taken any measure, including denying federal funds, against a jurisdiction…Federal law was labelled voluntary by the [Obama] administration in a November 2014 policy memorandum signed by the Homeland Security Secretary," reports the Center for Immigration Studies.

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After an undocumented immigrant killed a San Francisco woman last week, so-called "sanctuary cities" have become a hot topic of debate among lawmakers, but many citizens are unfamiliar with the issue and its terms.
sanctuary, cities, shield, immigrants
Thursday, 09 July 2015 07:55 AM
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