Declare Los Angeles a “Sanctuary City.”

Chamba SanchezBy Chamba SanchezDecember 12, 2016

I was taken aback a couple of weeks ago when Mayor Garcetti was quoted in LA Times saying that he avoids using the phrase ‘sanctuary city,’ because “it’s ‘ill-defined.” In addition, he told the Times, “we cooperate all the time with federal immigration officials when there are criminals that are in our midst and need to be deported.” This came right after Mayor Garcetti held a brief conversation with the President-Elect, Trump. I was mystified that advocates for undocumented immigrants in this city because they either said very little or didn’t say anything at all.  Really, one of the most progressive cities in America might not be a “sanctuary city”?   So, if the mayor and other civic leaders in this city know that this city might technically not be a “sanctuary city” why not start the process right away and officially declare Los Angeles a “sanctuary city”? I remember very vividly when a week after Trump got elected many council members and the mayor appeared on TV or issued statements and defiantly told Trump that the LA was going to protect its immigrants. I thought our civic leaders were showing spine when they made those statements since “LA is slated to receive $500 million from the federal government this fiscal year plus $23 million for federal housing.”

Any data about the demographics show that Los Angeles has approximately 1. 5 million foreign-born people, 850,000 of these foreign borns are undocumented. The outcome of the recent presidential election will test our LA civic leaders’ resolve in protecting our undocumented immigrants. President-Elect Trump took a hard line against undocumented immigrants while campaigning for the White House. It was his signature issue and he promised to go after cities that would not cooperate with immigration authorities in deporting undocumented immigrants. Reince Priebus who has been chosen to serve as Trump’s chief staff also told CNN that “a city that ignores federal laws and still wants the federal government to help them is an inconsistent position.”

Among leaders in progressive cities in this country, New York City’s Mayor, Bill de Blasio stands out as being very vocal and defiant to the President-Elect Trump in protecting his city’s undocumented residents. Bill de Blasio point black told the President-elect Trump that he was not going to back away from policies that protect immigrants living illegally in his city, even if that means cuts to his city’s budget.

Unlike Los Angeles, Mayors in Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Chicago have also sent strong messages to the President-Elect that they will fight back any effort to deport undocumented immigrants, while calling their cities “sanctuary cities,” San Francisco has taken it to a new level in defending its undocumented immigrants-they have enacted policies that specifically avoid cooperating with federal authorities.  The city of San Francisco has enacted a policy into law called “Due Process for All.” An ordinance that prohibits local enforcement agencies from holding undocumented immigrants for ICE.  No undocumented or legal immigrant with no violent felonies on their records or are being accused of any felony charges are reported to ICE. Why doesn’t LA has something like this? It is not enough to have the Chief Back telling us that we will not cooperate with ICE.  How will we know that this is being carried out as promised?

The death of Kate Steinle in 2015 who was shot and killed in San Francisco by an undocumented immigrant and repeat felon who had been deported many times in the past gave ammunition to the anti-immigration forces and candidate Trump while he was campaigning not just about “illegal immigration’ but also about the purpose of sanctuary cities in this country.

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-11-54-51-pmBut what exactly constitutes a sanctuary jurisdiction? It is not clear what this legal or political definition is but it is the term used to describe cities, counties or states in this country that go to great lengths to protect non-criminal undocumented immigrants from being deported. These cities accomplish this goal by limiting or utterly refusing to cooperate with federal authorities in charge of enforcing immigration policies in this country. Some cities specifically enact policies into ordinances that mandate protection of undocumented immigrants others cities just have their civic leaders to pledge that protection. The main goal for sanctuary cities is to make sure that undocumented immigrants report crimes, look for medical care when needed, and that they enroll their children in school without the fear that they will be reported to federal authorities for being undocumented in this country.

Cities that do not protect undocumented immigrants and “Immigration Detainers”  The Immigration Customs Enforcement-ICE has a set of categories of violation of laws in which undocumented immigrants who have been arrested could be subject to deportation.  Misdemeanors and traffic violations might be part of these categories. Once a red flag has been raised by the local law enforcement agency when an undocumented individual has been arrested then ICE makes an official request. The police department holding the undocumented individual lets ICE knows before releasing said, individual.  ICE then arrange a time to pick up the undocumented person and starts the deportation process. The constitutionality of this process has been questioned by some legal scholars who argue that these individuals’ due process rights might be in violation since ICE might not have arrest warrants for these individuals. In addition, these “detainers” are issued when individuals are just accused of committing a crime.  Undocumented individuals might eventually be found not guilty or charges might be dropped for lack of evidence.  This is problematic, undocumented individuals just need to be accused of a crime to subject to deportation.  These are very profound violations of these individuals’ constitutional rights.  And these detainers can also be used for legal immigrants.

Civic Leaders in Los Angeles can do better and they should declare this city a “sanctuary city” as soon as possible.   LA should also mirror what the city of San Francisco is doing protecting its undocumented immigrants.  Sanctuary cities are about protecting law-abiding undocumented hardworking immigrants who are an integral part of the fabric of many cities in this nation. Sanctuary cities are not what the anti-immigration forces argue, these cities do not provide “additional privileges, not available to citizens and legal immigrants, to criminal “aliens.”

 

Thank you for reading.

 

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Works Cited

Carcamo, Cindy, Kate Mather and Dakota Smith. “Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration leaves a lot unanswered for sanctuary cities like L.A.” Los Angeles Times, 15 Nov. 2016. Web. Accessed 4 Dec. 2016. <http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-sanctuary-cities-20161114-story.html>.

Feldman, Noah. “Sanctuary Cities Are Safe, Thanks to Conservatives.” Bloomberg View. 29 Nov. 2016. Web. Accessed 5 Dec. 2016. <https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-11-29/sanctuary-cities-are-safe-thanks-to-conservatives>.

“Immigration Detainers: A Comprehensive Look,” American Immigration Council. 17 Feb. 2010. Web. Accessed 5 Dec. 2016

Lee, Ye Hee Michelle. “What exactly are ‘sanctuary cities’ in immigration policy?” Washington Post, 7 Sept. 2016. Web. Accessed 6 Dec. 2016. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2016/09/07/what-exactly-are-sanctuary-cities-in-immigration-policy/?utm_term=.effd5ffdca3f>.

Smith, Morgan and Jay Root. “Jails Refused to Hold Thousands of Immigrants for Feds.” Texas Tribune, 15 Jan. 2016. Web. Accessed 5 Dec. 2016. <https://www.texastribune.org/2016/01/15/34-texas-counties-declined-hold-deportable-immigra/>.

Valverde, Miriam. “New York City mayor says the president can’t defund sanctuary cities ‘across the board.” Politifact, 18 Nov. 2016. Web. Accessed 5th Dec. 2016. <http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/dec/01/bill-de-blasio/new-york-city-mayor-says-president-cant-defund-san/>.

“What are sanctuary cities? “ Economist Explains, 22nd Nov. 2016. Web. Accessed 4 Dec. 2016. <http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2016/11/economist-explains-13>.

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