We Explain… What are Sanctuary Cities

The Trump coalition hates them, liberals believe they are safe havens for marginalized individuals, but what really constitutes a “sanctuary city?”



Every now and then we get so many questions in our inbox on a certain subject that it’s hard to either ignore or just sneak it into another topic. That’s why we created this feature “We Explain…”, in which we answer your said questions about… whatever it may be in the world of politics. It’s kind of like mansplaining, but hopefully it’s something you want us to explain. As always, if you have any questions you want us to answer, send them at contact[AT]thepostturtle.com!



With all the talk over the federal courts blocking President Trump’s efforts to defund “sanctuary cities”, this lead us to a vital question: what actually constitutes as a sanctuary city? It’s a question that we’ve been getting a lot of and something we had to look-up for ourselves from time-to-time. In actuality, the definition is vague, but not that complicated. So in this installment, we talk about what constitutes as a “sanctuary city” and what that means for those local municipalities.



At its core, a “sanctuary city” is where government officials at the local level – whether that be the mayor, police chief, fire marshal, ect – limit their cooperation with federal officials, in regards to undocumented immigrants living within their communities. This “non-compliance with federal rules” could be anything; from something as small as not sharing a resident’s immigration status to something as big as the police not detaining someone for an extra 48 hours upon ICE’s (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) request.


Because of this, trying to decipher what actually is a “sanctuary city” can be a tricky one. While many assume sanctuary cities are areas that have a large undocumented immigrant population, however that’s not always the case. The perfect example of this is what happened in Miami-Dade County.



As the above news report states, earlier this year, Miami-Dade County was willing to comply with the Trump administration’s executive order of allowing ICE to pick-up jailed undocumented immigrants for deportation. Of course, this was a cause for concern for Miami-Dade County’s large Hispanic population, which feared that even something as small as an unpaid parking ticket could have their family/friends detained and deported with no after-thought. The Mayor of Miami-Dade, Carlos Gimenez, went as far to say that, “we never claimed to be a sanctuary city.”


Now it’s important to note that local municipalities aren’t legally obligated to comply with immigration agents in terms of holding undocumented individuals to be picked-up for deportation. After all, ICE only requests local agencies to help with enforcing immigration laws, they’re by no means required to do so. However, the entire process puts local officials in a major bind. Whether they comply with immigration officials or not, both choices have very steep consequences!


  • If Local Communities Work with Immigration Officials in the Deportation Process: While local municipalities would be complying with federal agencies in this case, they would also have lost trust in a sizable portion of their community! In the case of law enforcement, a major aspect of protecting the community means having their trust when it comes to citizens reporting crimes or helping keep their neighborhoods safe. If undocumented immigrants within a community feel that police interaction could lead to deportation, then they are less likely to report crimes or worse, become targets for criminals. This makes the police’s job next to impossible if this happens within a community.



  • If Local Communities Don’t Work with Immigration Officials: Monetarily speaking, this could be very bad for local governments! While President Trump’s executive order on withholding federal funds from sanctuary cities is currently halted by the federal courts, some states have laws in place that stop state funds from reaching local communities, if they’re perceived as a sanctuary city. Take Texas for example; this year they passed a bill that would stop state funding for “sanctuary cities.” Which, as you can guess, is a major problem! Many local communities depend on those state funds to provide the most basic services for their citizens. To raise the stakes even further, currently there is a revised “stop sanctuary cities” bill going through the Texas legislature that would go further and potentially give Texas the ability to remove local officials from office if they are found to not comply with federal immigration services! Yikes…


So as you can see, a sanctuary city is entirely defined by its local government and at times that definition can change very quickly depending if local officials are willing to work with immigration agencies. But even then, the definition of what constitutes a “sanctuary city” is incredibly vague. Because what is the line between local communities cooperating with immigration officials and not cooperating? Does a police officer not asking a resident about their immigration status during a traffic stop count as not cooperating? We sincerely don’t know and from the looks of it, this debate is only getting started.



(Photo Credits: Pixabay.com)


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