WHILE THE TERM “SANCTUARY CITY” HAS NO SPECIFIC DEFINITION, THEY ARE IN ESSENCE AMERICAN CITIES THAT HAVE ENACTED UNIQUE, BUT VASTLY SIMILAR, LAWS AND PRACTICES TO LIMIT COOPERATION OF LOCAL AND STATE LAW ENFORCEMENT WITH FEDERAL IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS.
Not only do such policies provide protection for undocumented individuals, but they also help build the trust between law enforcement and the communities they patrol. Without such policies, undocumented individuals would have to live in even greater fear of possible encounters with law enforcement.
In an effort to discourage sanctuary cities from continuing to protect undocumented individuals, the Trump Administration has made several efforts to threaten such cities for their failure to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. Although blocked, special threats have been made by the Administration to remove federal funds from such cities.
While sanctuary cities have been rejected by conservatives for years prior Trump’s election into office, backlash has especially spiked throughout the past year and a half. Many in opposition use cases such as Kate Steinle’s, the young woman who was allegedly murdered by an undocumented individual who was later acquitted, to justify their position for harsher immigration laws and punishment.
For many of us fortunate enough to live in this country with legal status, daily encounters with law enforcement, whether formal or informal, do not strike us with fear or make us wonder if this will be the day our lives change forever; unfortunately, not all of our neighbors share that privilege. There are several instances where undocumented individuals have been able to assist law enforcement in their investigations because such a trust has been built within the community.
What will become of the safety of these often minority communities and law enforcement’s ability to their job if the Trump Administration’s threat to sanctuary cities becomes a reality?