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Are "sanctuary cities" defying federal immigration policies?

As federal law, immigration policies typically supersede local or state practices. However, some of the more controversial immigration requirements have resulted in so-called “sanctuary cities:” municipalities that may not be enforcing one or more federal immigration mandates.

Local resistance typically takes the form of ignoring Immigration and Customs Enforcement orders. For example, ICE officials may request notification whenever an undocumented immigrant is arrested by local police, even if just for a minor crime. Yet local officials may choose to not share that information with ICE. Even if they do alert the ICE, local officials may also decline to hold an undocumented immigrant long enough for ICE to petition the applicable court to commence deportation proceedings.

Some localities may ignore ICE orders for reasons that are more practical than political. It takes resources to hold undocumented immigrants, and local police may not have the staffing or facilities to accommodate the ICE’s requests. In other cases, officials may not want to discourage undocumented immigrants from reporting incidents to the police. In that scenario, officials may regard ignoring ICE orders as a strategy for promoting public safety.

The Trump administration has stated that it will take an aggressive stance against cities that do not enforce federal immigration orders. In fact, President Trump has called for funding to be cut to sanctuary cities. However, this is not a new argument. Congress has considered several bills in the past few years that would have restricted federal funds to sanctuary cities. None of them passed.

As immigration law continues to evolve, it is important to consult with an experienced immigration law firm that understands how local officials interact with ICE. Our law firm fits that bill.

Source: Journalist’s Resource, “Sanctuary cities and federal funds: Interpreting Trump’s executive order,” David Trilling, April 16, 2017

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