Jeff Sessions Announces Crackdown on Sanctuary Cities

On Monday Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a man whose heart was surgically removed at birth and now sits in a cryogenic chamber in Russia, threatened to cut federal funding from sanctuary cities that “frustrate” the “enforcement of immigration laws.”

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Though “sanctuary city” is not a legal term, it is broadly considered to be a jurisdiction that limits the cooperation between local authorities and federal immigration agents. According to the New York Times, “In cities, sanctuary policies often mean local officials do not ask about a person’s immigration status, but there is no universal definition for a sanctuary city.”

“Such policies make their cities and states less safe,” Sessions stated during a White House briefing. “Public safety as well as national security are at stake, and put them at risk of losing federal dollars.”

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Sessions referenced violent crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, including the case of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco, who was allegedly shot and killed by an undocumented immigrant in 2015. Sessions also cited a new report released each week by the Department of Homeland Security that details convictions or criminal charges of undocumented immigrants who were released from jails in sanctuary cities.

However, critics argue that the reports are a way to bully cities and states into getting in line with Trump’s immigration agenda. Immigrants are statistically far less likely to commit a crime than an American citizen. It’s also worth noting that there is no such weekly list of crimes committed by young, white men, for example, even though they make up the majority of mass shooters in America.

Sessions also failed to acknowledge the recent deportations of undocumented immigrants who pose no threat to national security, like Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, a 35-year-old mother of two who checked in regularly with officials after she was arrested in 2008 for using a fake Social Security number to work in the country. Neither did he acknowledge the increasingly vulnerable position of undocumented immigrants, like the four women in Denver who dropped domestic abuse cases over fear of deportation.

Though the sanctuary city has existed in America since the early 1980s, the New Yorker reports that the rise of the phenomenon occurred largely in response to former President Obama’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants. Sanctuary cities proliferated after 2014, when several federal courts ruled that local officials do not have the authority to detain someone based solely on the suspicion of immigration status; detention without due process is a violation the Fourth Amendment. According to the Washington Post, complying with ICE detention requests are voluntary.

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When Trump issued an executive order that threatened to limit federal funding to states and cities that remain sanctuaries, several mayors and local officials rejected it. However, the financial burden they face is significant. The Daily Beast reports that Travis County in Texas has started a GoFundMe account to raise money after Gov. Greg Abbott withdrew state funding—and that campaign doesn’t include the federal grants it stands to lose.

Sessions announced that the $4.1 billion grant money from the Department of Justice will only go to jurisdictions that grant full enforcement authority to federal immigration officials. On the recent hate crime committed by a white supremacist in New York City, however, Sessions remained silent.

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Prachi Gupta is a senior reporter at Jezebel.

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DISCUSSION

thenoblerenard
The Noble Renard

This is all part and parcel with Session’s virulent opposition to nonwhite-immigration. He has been unabashed about his desire to return the United States to the era of the national quota systems, where immigration was tightly restricted to only northern and western Europe. He also is a strong pusher of the “merit-based” system of immigration—which would bring in primarily individuals from wealthy countries like Europe and Australia which produce the majority of “in-demand” skills—to the point that he was forced to apologize in his congressional hearing for his statement that, because of our family-based immigration system, “almost no one coming from the Dominican Republic to the United States is coming here because they have a provable skill that would benefit us and that would indicate their likely success in our society.”

Sanctuary Cities work. They keep us safe. They allow undocumented immigrants whose only crime was a decades-old immigration violation to not be afraid to cooperate with the police. They keep domestic abusers in jail because their victims are not afraid to report the crimes. This is a very real fear. The LAPD has reported that sexual assault and domestic crimes reported by Latinos have suddenly dropped over 25% in the first two months of 2017. As no other demographic showed that drop, what that means is that a significant percentage of domestic violence victims were too afraid to call the cops on their abusers. That is not good for our communities, and for the American citizen children who are forced to watch their parent be abused with no one there to help them.

And to add on to this; yes, sometimes undocumented immigrants commit crimes. Sometimes they commit murders, and they commit rapes, and they are awful, horrible human beings. But so are documented immigrants. And US citizens. And, quite frankly, all of humanity. I’ve known and worked with many undocumented people. Some of them were later able to find a way to get lawful status. Others remain stuck in a situation where there is literally no possible way they can ever get status, because of our punitive immigration laws that restrict such pathways. But they were often wonderful people; kind, sympathetic, hardworking, and dedicated to their communities. For every awful undocumented shithead who commits a horrific crime, there are dozens of people like Manuel Jesus Cordova Soberanes, who, while crossing the border illegally, came across a small lost boy, who’s mom had died in a car crash, and stayed with him until help arrived, even knowing that by doing so he would be deported.

People will continue to cross the border and live here in the United States, without authorization, even if we get rid of sanctuary cities. The vast, vast majority of these people will go through their lives like the rest of us, not causing any trouble, never being arrested, and living peaceful lives. With or without sanctuary cities, a miniscule minority will do awful things. But if we don’t have sanctuary cities, a much larger number of people will be victimized repeatedly because they’re too afraid to work with the police or testify against their attackers. And that hurts all of us.