One Step Away November 2017

8 One Step Away ● NOVEMBER 2017 SANCT UARY WHAT IS A SANCTUARY CITY? While there is no standard legal definition for “sanctuary city,” all of the cities that have been given this label refuse to comply with certain federal requests to detain individuals or turn individuals in to federal authorities based on their immigration status.This doesn’t mean that they are totally non-cooperative with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). According to a statement by Philadelphia’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, the City “works with our federal partners on anti-terrorism and drug trafficking, and [it] also do[es] not stop ICE from arresting Philadelphians whom they believe are undocumented.” However, sanctuary cities believe that local police should not be required to do the work of federal agencies, or share information that could be harmful to residents of their cities. WHAT IS ICE? ICE stands for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which operates as a part of the Department of Homeland Security. ICE officials are responsible for detention and deportation of individuals that they find in violation of immigration law. Immigration statutes are federal laws, and therefor ICE — a federal agency— ismeant to enforce them. WHY DO CITIES’ POLICIES MATTER? While ICE has the funding and the federal mandate to arrest and detain individuals for crimes related to immigration, most people are first detained by local authorities. When someone is brought into custody and ICE wants to interrogate them or pursue further action, they may issue a “detainer” asking the local authorities to hold the person in custody longer. While many jurisdictions complywith these detainers, sanctuary cities have challenged them, and have found a legal basis to do so: The Immigration Legal Resource Center reports that — since this detainer is not a legal warrant — federal courts in both Pennsylvania and Oregon have determined that holding someone in custody with an ICE detainer alone is unlawful arrest. INTRODUCTION Cities around the country have been fighting to retain their “sanctuary city” status despite recent efforts from the federal government to penalize them for doing so. The City of Philadelphia—with 12.7% of its residents born outside the United States (U.S. Census Bureau data)—has been a central voice in this sanctuary movement. While the federal government has set an October 27 deadline for sanctuary cities to show that their policies are in line with federal immigration law, the City is pressing forward with a lawsuit against the Department of Justice that it hopes will prove these federal demands unconstitutional. WHY PROVIDE SANCTUARY? According to Philadelphia’s Office of the Mayor and Office of Immigrant Affairs, Philadelphia’s sanctuary policies uphold the American value of treating all people equally and fairly: “Blaming an entire group of people for our country’s problems and violating their right to due process isn’t constitutional and it isn’t American. Philadelphia treats immigrants as we would any other resident under our criminal justice system.” Opponents of sanctuary cities have focused their arguments around public safety, drawing attention to cases where undocumented immigrants committed violent crimes. However, it’s not clear that an aggressive approach to enforcing immigration law actuallymakes anyone safer. Supporters of sanctuary cities argue that these policies build trust between local law enforcement and immigrant communities—trust that is crucial for reporting, solving, and ultimately reducing violent crimes. In fact, the Mayor’s Office points out, crime in Philadelphia is the lowest it has been in 40 years, and has continued to decline since sanctuary policies were enacted. In addition to the moral and practical arguments, Philadelphia has a legal justification for its status: It will not turn over a detainee to ICE unless they have a warrant. The City argues that holding anyone, regardless of immigrant status without a warrant is unlawful. This stance has been upheld in federal court. & CITIES IMMIGRATION