The Good, the Bad and the Ugly for Sanctuary Cities

Protesters take part in a No Ban, No Wall immigrant rights rally to oppose a border wall and support sanctuary cities on Feb. 28 outside the State Capitol in Austin, Texas.

Protesters take part in a No Ban, No Wall immigrant rights rally to oppose a border wall and support sanctuary cities on Feb. 28 outside the State Capitol in Austin, Texas. Eric Gay / AP Photo

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

“Don’t just comply with these ICE detainers,” the State and Local Legal Center’s executive director advised city leaders. “You’re going to get yourself in a world of hurt if you do that.”

WASHINGTON — If your city has declared itself a “sanctuary city,” know that the term hasn’t been legally defined, and that’s just the first problem with President Trump’s executive order attempting to defund them.

Santa Clara County, California and two cities in Massachusetts have already sued to block the executive order, which State and Local Legal Center Executive Director Lisa Soronen called “short” and “unconstitutional” while discussing immigration reform at the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference in the nation's capital.

The executive order also implies, but does not explicitly state, that local police departments should comply with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which Soronen said has caused “a lot of panic and fairly deserved panic.”

“Don’t just comply with these ICE detainers,” Soronen told attendees of the NLC event. “You’re going to get yourself in a world of hurt if you do that.”

By that she meant a possible federal lawsuit for not complying with the Fourth Amendment, which protects the right of people and their property against unreasonable searches and seizures.

When local law enforcement makes an arrest, the suspects’ fingerprints are sent to the Department of Homeland Security and then to ICE, which can and will ask police to detain people. These ICE detainers aren’t warrants, Soronen said, but re-arrest requests that require probable cause to avoid violating the Constitution.

Other oversights within the executive order: Cities are under no obligation to collect information on immigrants for the federal government they don’t already publicize, and any federal grants the Trump administration wants to deny sanctuary cities must be connected to immigration in some way and explicitly state in their language that they can be withheld.

Cities are likely looking at cuts to the federal funding they receive regardless, said Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, who argued that the U.S. Supreme Court already overturned local law enforcement being required to carry out federal authority, when it struck down a congressional attempt to have police departments register handguns. Power over local police belongs to the states, he added.

“In Pittsburgh we defend the Constitution, not executive orders,” Peduto said.

Instead, Trump’s executive order has people in the city afraid to report crimes, go to the hospital or send their children to school for fear of getting themselves or their family members deported, he said.

Tempe, Arizona has experienced much the same, said city Councilmember Joel Navarro, who added laws targeting immigrants cause them to hide and hinder law enforcement’s ability to form a connection with those communities.

Residents of his city have undoubtedly heard the story of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, an undocumented, 35-year-old mother of two teenagers who was recently deported after reporting to ICE. Her children, born in the U.S., are citizens and were left behind.

“You have kids in schools wondering if their parents are going to be there when they get home,” Navarro said. “How do you function worrying about that?”

The fact that many undocumented immigrants felt comfortable enough to call their local leaders, after Trump was elected president, asking for protection shows cities in partnership with police are making inroads, said Monica Fuentes, director of Welcoming America’s D.C. office. Many cities declaring their “sanctuary” city status, despite the lack of a legal definition, do so knowing they need an influx of immigrant workers to remain competitive, she said.

In the next 10 years, the Pittsburgh metro area anticipates a 70,000-person employment shortfall.

“We have a generation that’s missing to take over for people that are retiring,” Peduto said.

Immigrants can fill that void, and Pennsylvania’s chambers of commerce—which often fund Republican campaigns across the state—have applied pressure on legislators to support H-1B visas for students and avoid negatively impacting the economy.

Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who advocated for a mass deportation, undoubtedly hurt Tempe’s economy, Navarro said. Immigrants need to be convinced they can find a better life in U.S. cities, he said, which is why “strategic reform” is needed to streamline the immigration process.

At the city level, mayors have found success establishing offices of immigrant affairs or new Americans that coordinate with police and fire to change the way services are delivered, Fuentes said. Resolutions stating city values and a commitment to welcoming immigrants are good entry points to working with those communities and developing policies and programs for them, as well as forging alliances with local churches and philanthropists to combat rising hate crimes and calls for deportation.

A division chief with the Phoenix Fire Department, Navarro said firefighters are often admitted to places police aren’t because they have greater trust with the immigrant community—making partnerships between agencies that much more important.

In the case of Santa Clara County, the Justice Department is asking the U.S. District Court judge not to hear the case because it poses no immediate harm to cities—having not been enforced yet. That makes it that much more important that city leaders arm themselves with knowledge of immigration law and make clear the order’s illegality whenever they can, Soronen said.

“The federal government has limited power to take your money away,” she said. “That executive order is not the final statement . . . And it’s a poor use of federal resources to defend it."

In September 2015, Pittsburgh released a Roadmap for Inclusive Innovation intended to be an “offensive playbook” for engaging immigrants and other disadvantaged groups in the city, Peduto said, but it’s become a “defensive playbook” in the era of Trump. The city is more focused on ensuring the security of its Latino and Muslim populations than empowering them.

The mayor recalled former Pittsburgh Mayor Joe Barker, a corner preacher who rode prevalent nativist and anti-Catholic sentiments into office in 1850 as a write-in candidate while imprisoned. Barker lost his bid for reelection and subsequent mayoral elections, and twelve years later he was beheaded by an oncoming train while walking along railroad tracks. Today Pittsburgh boasts one of the largest Catholic populations of any major U.S. city.

“This is just our time,” Peduto said. “And this is our time to be tested.”

Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty

NEXT STORY: State and Local Agencies in Northeast Prep for Big Late-Season Coastal Storm

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.