Sanctuary Cities

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Sanctuary cities is a term that refers to towns or cities that protect undocumented immigrants. Places such as San Francisco, New York, and Chicago have recently adapted sanctuary cities causing much concern as these cities operate on a “don’t ask, don’t tell” system. Presently, Congress is responsible for the deportation of undocumented; however, there is discussion whether the Federal Government should be more involved (Tramonte, 2011).

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The Sanctuary movement began in the 1970s in order to help protect undocumented immigrants. With the growing immigrant populations laws changed in order to help progress people of different nationality into the U.S. permanently. After 9/11 however, the United States implemented greater actions in order to fight terrorism (Tramonte, 2011). This caused immigrants’ relationship with police and law enforcers to become negative. This is detrimental in cities. With high populations, crime is inevitable meaning police need the support of the citizens living there. In recent studies, it has shown that 70 percent of undocumented immigrants are less likely to report crimes in fear of being deported (Harkinson et al, 2015). Many immigrants in the U.S. are in cities, such as San Francisco, often meaning that they are witnesses to the crime. The statistics prove this too. Murder rates in San Francisco were at their lowest in 2014 compared to other cities in California. Overall with sanctuary cities long term crime rates have steadily decreased (Price, 2017). Another reason we need sanctuary cities is because they are needed in order to protect undocumented immigrants. In many ways the federal immigration laws are unjust and attack people who have lived here for years and have committed no crimes. “Dreamers,” or young kids that have been brought into the United States illegally by their parents future is uncertain and will it most likely have an unforgiving ending if deported. In recent years, immigration officials have separated more than 700 children from their families, including 100 that were under the age of four (Karaim, 2018). Having sanctuary cities would likely reduce unjust laws that hurt children and their families.

However, within the positives of sanctuary cities there are also negatives. For one, they can harbor criminals and create a dangerous living environment for U.S. citizens. In many Sanctuary cities police are often prohibited from asking questions regarding immigration status causing a lot of things to get swept under the rug (Stillwell, 2011). Along with dangerous criminals, there are monetary concerns as well. San Francisco has spent millions of dollars in housing and flying them back to their home countries. In order to house juvenile rehabilitation centers it costs about $7,000 per person per month. Also, in order to provide identification cards or to provide a program that could help them get a legal status could cost up to two million dollars (Stillwell, 2011).

Throughout this long debate, there have been Federal and State actions regarding sanctuary cities. Now, Congress is responsible for deportation; however in recent reports, Trump administration has continuously increased immigration enforcement in all 50 states (Karaim,2018). President Trump has also issued an executive order to deny funding to sanctuary cities. However, a federal judge permanently blocked to order claiming it was unconstitutional. This executive order sought to keep funds from cities that would not back federal efforts to deport undocumented immigrants (Rosenberg, 2017). This decision has caused a change in the way people look at state authority. Federal government has always had the power to enforce immigration, but sanctuary policies make things safer by encouraging immigrants to talk to police. Though the Federal Government has acted upon sanctuary cities, states have as well. For example, California has passed a bill, Special Order 40, which restricts police from questioning immigration status (Tramonte, 2011). This order helps build trust between police and undocumented immigrants. It reassures immigrants who are victims of crime that they can report things without risk of deportation. These decisions overall affected how people see federal and state government. By causing changes within government, there has been more questions on whether or not the Federal Government should be more involved in deportation in sanctuary cities (Tramonte, 2011).

I think that sanctuary cities will help a lot of people, especially police. Having witnesses that aren’t afraid to talk to police can help find who the “bad apples” are in cities. If people feel as though they can report illegal activities, crime will overall go down. Sanctuary cities provide needed help to immigrants and help them build a better life. In regards to this, a lot of people in sanctuary cities were brought here illegally by their parents and have been raised in United States for their entire life. Because of this, I feel as though the state is legally best equipped and allowed to resolve things. However, I think that the Federal Government should be involved a little more and that citizens’ money shouldn’t all be going to sanctuary cities. Overall, I believe that the states are responsible for the care and order of sanctuary cities.

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Sanctuary Cities. (2019, Feb 15). Retrieved December 9, 2022 , from

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