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Sanctuary Cities Brace For Trump Order Targeting Undocumented Immigrants for Deportation

| February 19, 2017

Erendira Rendon, national projects director with The Resurrection Project in Chicago, goes over the influx of questions from local residents with Guadalupe Raymundo, who represents undocumented immigrants in their deportation appeals. The Project has been briefing fearful immigrants ahead of Donald Trump's order cracking down on sanctuary cities. (Tanla Karas, IRIN)

Erendira Rendon, national projects director with The Resurrection Project in Chicago, goes over the influx of questions from local residents with Guadalupe Raymundo, who represents undocumented immigrants in their deportation appeals. The Project has been briefing fearful immigrants ahead of Donald Trump’s order cracking down on sanctuary cities. (Tanla Karas, IRIN)

“People are just terrified,” says Erendira Rendon, national projects director for this community-based organisation in Pilsen, a lively, majority-Hispanic neighborhood on Chicago’s Lower West Side.

Many residents fear the new president – who took office four weeks ago – will make good on his campaign promise to deport many of the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US. Many remember all too well the mass workplace raids carried out nationwide during former president George W. Bush’s second term: highly militarized, coordinated sweeps that saw tens of thousands of illegal immigrant workers arrested and deported.

To prepare for the possibility of a similar or even more wide-ranging crackdown, The Resurrection Project has been hosting “know your rights” workshops. Sessions start with a breathing exercise to ease people’s anxieties. Then the questions begin: “What should I do if federal immigration agents come to my home? To my workplace? Is it safe for me to renew my DACA (President Barack Obama’s temporary amnesty for undocumented young people whose parents brought them to the US as children)?” [DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The Los Angeles Times reported this week that “An executive order has already been drafted to end the program.”]

“We are operating under the assumption that Trump is going to do what he has promised to do, which is a massive deportation of two to three million people immediately,” says Rendon, herself a 31-year-old DACA beneficiary. 

While campaigning, Trump pledged to end DACA, which Obama introduced by executive order in 2012. Though not a path to citizenship, it gives more than 740,000 undocumented youth a temporary reprieve from deportation.

Local defence

The saving grace for people like Rendon could be the city they happen to live in. Now, more than ever, the fight to help undocumented immigrants and shield them from deportation has shifted to the local level. Cities like Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Philadelphia, and New York, along with counties and college campuses nationwide, are pledging to limit their cooperation with federal immigration authorities and become “sanctuaries” for those facing deportation.

On the campaign trail, Trump railed against so-called “sanctuary cities”, pointing to the July 2015 case of a Mexican man who shot and killed a woman in San Francisco. The man had seven previous felony convictions and had already been deported five times. But prior to the shooting, local police had declined to detain him on behalf of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency without court approval – a key way by which sanctuary cities can avoid assisting federal officials.

Trump has promised to “end sanctuary cities” in his first 100 days in office by revoking their federal funding. Several cities, particularly their law enforcement agencies, stand to lose tens of millions of dollars in annual grants from the federal justice department if he follows through. Local police rely on these grants for new hires and special programs for drug-abusers and domestic violence victims. Nearly $29 million is at stake in Chicago. Trump issued an executive order against Sanctuary Cities on Jan. 25, claiming sanctuaries “have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic.”

Even so, since the election, many cities have strengthened laws prohibiting local officials from asking people about their immigration status. Others, including Chicago, are rolling out municipal identification cards so that undocumented residents can more easily access public services such as healthcare and schools.

Mayors are also setting aside funds to pay for lawyers to defend people in federal deportation proceedings. In the US, immigrants facing deportation have no automatic right to legal counsel. Chicago, home to some 150,000 undocumented residents, recently announced a $1.3 million legal aid fund, while Los Angeles has pledged $10 million through a public-private partnership. New York City already guaranteed representation to immigrant detainees via a $6 million program created in 2013.

“I want them to know that the city of Chicago – your children, you and your family – are safe, secure and supported.”

“I want them to know that the city of Chicago – your children, you and your family – are safe, secure and supported,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in announcing his city’s legal aid fund last month.

Part of the fund is being channeled to The Resurrection Project to train some 200 “community navigators” to assist people with immigration questions. The remaining $750,000 has gone to the Chicago-based National Immigrant Justice Center to hire nine staff who will represent at least 1,000 cases over the next year.

Legally flaky

The sanctuary city concept is not new. In Chicago, it dates back to 1985 when then-mayor Harold Washington issued an executive order that forbade city agencies from asking about the immigration status of anyone seeking city services.

Hundreds of US jurisdictions, primarily counties, have sanctuary policies including entire states such as California, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Even in conservative states, such laws enjoy the support of law enforcement agencies because they maintain safety and trust within communities: crime victims and witnesses who may be undocumented are far less likely to cooperate with local police if they think they’ll be deported.

But many immigration experts warn that the term “sanctuary” is misleading, conjuring up an image of cities hiding their residents from federal agents. This is not the case, as ICE can round up undocumented immigrants anywhere providing they have a warrant.  

“Designating a locality or campus as a ‘sanctuary’ does not mean anything legally,” says Stephen Yale-Loehr, an immigration attorney and Cornell Law School professor. “It’s a symbolic comfort to students or residents that local police won’t actively tell immigration officials if there’s an undocumented individual on campus, for example.”

Some cities and universities have rejected the “sanctuary” label, opting instead for the term “welcoming.”

Although the sanctuary city movement has gained momentum since Trump’s election, piecemeal regulations and enforcement mean the levels of support available to undocumented immigrants differ significantly from one jurisdiction to another.

Rendon would know. Her parents brought her to the US with them from Oaxaca, Mexico when she was four years old. This means she’s covered by DACA but her parents are still undocumented. They also live in a suburb northwest of Chicago that has no sanctuary laws.

“For myself, I’m young – I know I can figure it out,” Rendon says. “But my parents are 60 years old and getting older. What is going to happen to them? They’re always scared, always worried, always under a lot of pressure.” 

Growing backlog

Despite such fears, it’s still unclear just how Trump could scale up deportations. He has pledged to prioritise convicted criminals, but immigration experts say there aren’t nearly enough of those to reach Trump’s stated two to three million target.

Obama oversaw the removal of 2.5 million immigrants during his eight years in office – more than any other president. Significantly increasing the current pace of deportations would mean addressing the record backlog at immigration courts. An individual facing deportation must go before an immigration court before a judge will order their removal, but there are 520,000 pending cases nationwide, including more than 23,000 in Illinois State, where Chicago is located. Hearings are often scheduled three years in advance.

In sanctuary cities, where immigrants facing deportation can access legal aid and fight a deportation decision, the backlog is likely to grow further.

Deporting people is also expensive. At an average cost of $10,000 per deportee, Trump would need to ask Congress to approve $20 billion to $30 billion to hit his target, which doesn’t even include the billions he’ll need to build that “big, beautiful wall“.

Trump’s promise to swiftly deport such large numbers nevertheless has advocates worried.

“Enforcement operations are messy, and what’s happened in the past is that a lot of bystanders like family and neighbours get caught up [and deported as well], even if the target is just one person,” says Heidi Altman, policy director for the National Immigrant Justice Center.

“We stand behind all immigrants, including those involved in the criminal justice system. Deportation is often a vastly disproportionate consequence for their actions.” 

–Tania Jaras, IRIN

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32 Responses for “Sanctuary Cities Brace For Trump Order Targeting Undocumented Immigrants for Deportation”

  1. Watching Closely says:

    The camps will be next. They have to have some place to put all these people….and the ‘camps’ will be next. How far does this have to go before everyone sees how history is repeating itself, and NOT in good way?

  2. Iovannitti says:

    The United State of America can’t and should not legalize illegal immigrants aka undocumented including criminals this includes DACA Dreamers. Eventually these people will walk back to where they came from.

  3. Ws says:

    GO TRUMP! Do what most American citizens want and take back this beautiful USA. NO CRIMINAL ALIENS SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO STAY IN THE USA period!!, GO TRUMP!!,

  4. PeachesMcGee says:

    I support legal immigrants…

    let me repeat that…LEGAL immigrants.

    In other countries illegal/undocumented immigrants are jailed, deported, and/or shot depending on the country.

    We should not support ILLEGAL immigrants.

  5. Mark says:

    You are in this country illegally! Go home and you have nothing to be scared of. Come in legally! I wonder how your home country would treat an American that entered their country illegally?

  6. Anonymous says:

    You’re either for the law or your against it!
    You want to harbor law breakers, so be it. That’s on bad choices and elected representatives that often skirt thier responsibilities and want to blame others. But don’t expect the rational Taxpayers to pay you for it.

  7. I/M/O says:

    Announced tonight on 710 Radio that 10,000 new ICE Officers and 5,000 new Border Security Officers to be hired.

    Apparently the plans are to be put into effect.

  8. Anonymous says:

    if you here illegally–you have NO rights…..

    sorry to break the bad news….

  9. BizarroWorld says:

    UNDOCUMENTED, doesn’t that really mean ILLEGAL ?

  10. BOB says:

    They are not UNDOCUMENTED! They are ILLEGAL! They broke the law when they crossed the border. It is a very sad situation in many cases but if you don’t like THE LAW then CHANGE IT! ” Obama REMOVED 2.5 million, more than any other President”,…WHERE WAS THE OUTRAGE…..ITS ALL POLITICS !

  11. Mark101 says:

    Undocumented Immigrants for Deportation sounds like a plan to me. Not legal , go home or apply for a green card or nonimmigrant visa its that simple.

  12. woody says:

    Yeah it’s going to be expensive,no crack down in over 8 years.Illegals flowing into this country all nilly willy.I am tired of th term ‘breaking up families’ the group can go to,you know you are illegal don’t start a family duh.

  13. Sherry says:

    Just read all the FEAR and HATE in the comments here! You all must be soooooooo very proud!!

  14. Veteran says:

    Mega bucks in tax payer money will be saved by deporting these illegals. No to mention potential lives saved.

  15. Wishful Thinking says:

    How come the word Illegal gets substituted with ‘undocumented’ ?
    My husband is a LEGAL immigrant – now a US citizen. He did it the right way. We waited on line in Miami for 11 hours – overnight – to be able to get in the door in the morning at Immigration when we were married 26 years ago
    I lived in Guadalajara Mexico in the early 70’s… I was not allowed to work – I had a tourist visa and had to return to the US border every six months for the privilege of remaining in Mexico as a tourist !! Mexico required five years as a tourist before obtaining legal immigrant status. Not like here!!

    If you came here illegally get the hell out of here – you are a criminal. Trump detests criminals- bravo!

  16. The Oracle says:

    All people must respect the laws of the country they live in. Illegal immigrants that are convicted of felony crimes, must be deported, NOW. Coming into any country illegally and then committing felony crimes , shows a total disrespect for the law. Sanctuary cities are a danger to all law abiding citizens.

  17. Fredrick says:

    Sherry….. No fear, no hate….. Just would like the law enforced and thankful it finally is. I am the proud great grandson of a LEGAL immigrant. If you want to come here, get in line with those who also want to come here legally and you will be welcomed with open arms. Your side can try to spin this as much as you want as everyone being anti immigrant, hateful you would like. Nothing is further from the truth. We just want those who come join us in this wonderful country to do it legally. The more you and your lib friends call us all racists and hateful, the more people you chase over to the side that wants the law enforced. The same reason you lost the election. We are not the ones who are out protesting (ie we have jobs)… we are the ones who work hard and sit silently and just get pissed off. You pushed us to the point that we voted for Trump. We are tired of the BS, tired of the do nothing politicians and especially tired of the politically correct liberals who like to spend out money.

  18. Outsider says:

    “Undocumented” equals “unvetted.” If an American sexual predator moves from 123 Main Street to 122 Main Street, he must register at his new address, which, rightly so, cannot be anywhere near a school. If an illegal immigrant who is also a sexual predator of children runs across our border, he is welcomed into this country, given food, an education and medical care. No one will bother checking on his background, and if federal agents try to find him, the sanctuary city police will shield him and give him free legal services. Now ask yourself, “Do I live in a country run by idiots?”

  19. Sherry says:

    Enjoy your delicious tomatoes and strawberries when they are $6-8.00 a pound. . . or were you thinking of applying for the job of picking those crops yourself?

    Oh yes. . . Trump will most certainly be beating his chest . . . again, and again over creating thousands of jobs like these. . . now requiring minimum wages/benefits/taxes. . . driving UP the prices to consumers! The lily white “legal” Americans will certainly be lining up for these jobs . . LOL!:

    – cleaning toilets in hotels and office buildings and hospitals, etc.
    – making beds
    – washing dishes
    – washing cars
    – scrubbing and waxing floors
    – gardening
    – cleaning fish, chickens, beef, pork
    – being a “nanny”
    – picking crops
    – emptying and cleaning bed pans, etc., etc.

    Which of these jobs will YOU be taking????

  20. Fredrick says:

    So you are for USING Illegal Immigrants as “slaves / cheep labor” to pick you berry’s and mow your lawn? Shouldn’t they be getting $15.00 an hour for picking you berry’s and mowing your lawn? Or is that just for flipping burgers at McD’s and LEGAL immigrants? How will you pay for that $10.00 Big Mac? Can’t have it both ways.

  21. Nancy says:

    Sherry – I would take any one of those jobs. I am American born and raised. Non of these jobs are demeaning but you make it sound like they are. Which one of those jobs would YOU take? My guess is you’d rather not take any of them. Perhaps handouts are your way of life. Get off your high horse.

  22. Outsider says:

    Ah, the truth comes out! We need these illegals to do our laundry and mow our lawns! I worked my way through college cleaning houses, windows, and yes, even toilets. I painted and did landscaping as well. I did this before the illegal immigration invasion started, and was able to make good money for a college student 30 years ago precisely because there was no cheap immigrant labor to compete with. Instead of looking down on these jobs,I see them as an opportunity to learn the value of hard work. It also made me aspire to do better things after I got out of college DEBT FREE. In spite of the fact I am now in the top five percent of income earners I still now my own grass, including weed eating and blowing down the driveway. I don’t need an illegal to do that for me, thank you very much.

  23. Sherry says:

    Nancy, you are the exception. . . most people wouldn’t take any of these jobs unless they absolutely had to! I hope deportation squads create a great job for you and the thousands of others that want them. But, I absolutely think you are wrong to think those being deported will be easily replaced.

    Frederick. . . we will all be missing that “cheap” labor when we can’t afford what is produced with it! BTW. . . the minimum wage in Florida is $8.10 an hour. How many of YOU can make a living from that? Are you ready to step up Nancy?

  24. snapperhead says:

    Big business ie..agriculture, construction, meat processing etc etc as much as any liberal bleeding hearts is as much to blame for illegal immigration. the Chamber of Corruption has for many years fought against tighter enforcement and border security. Businesses are in the business to make money…they have no allegiance to this country….how flippin dense you have to be to not realize this? Aholes like Trump and his merry band of billionaires cabinet has as well and you really think NOW he’s going to change that? LMFAO

  25. bleeding heart says:


  26. Sherry says:

    LOL! Can you just see the darling “entitled” Millennials taking up the slack in the bed pan cleaning department at $8.10 an hour? LOL!

    I wonder just how many of our “loyal” American employers are going to cut their profit margins and start paying minimum wages and benefits to hire American workers. . . anyone with half a brain knows that getting rid of cheap labor will either drive prices up. . . or drive the businesses to another country that has cheaper labor.

  27. Bill says:

    @ Sherry says:

    February 20, 2017 at 8:44 am

    Just read all the FEAR and HATE in the comments here! You all must be soooooooo very proud!!

    The ONLY “fear and hate” I see her on this is ~~Watching Closely says:

    February 19, 2017 at 8:09 pm

    The camps will be next. They have to have some place to put all these people….and the ‘camps’ will be next. How far does this have to go before everyone sees how history is repeating itself, and NOT in good way?

    IMO it is our political left that spreads fear n hate

  28. Anonymous says:

    I believe Sherry would like to deport all of us deplorables who voted for Trump.

  29. Dutch says:

    Sherry, why can’t legal welfare recipients do that picking? Why should they get payed for sitting around doing nothing?

  30. takeabreath says:

    if you take a deep breath…..OUR President is only following the LAW OF THESE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!!!!! hes not deporting the cherry and lettuce pickers. Hes deporting the scum and law breakers. you are a typical extreme far left wing . Law breakers should leave.Or helped to leave. this is our Country (LEGAL IMMIGRANTS and US BORN FOLKS)

  31. takeabreath says:

    Our President is not combing the streets loading buses with bed pan washers and lettuce pickers, He is removing BAD PEOPLE. For once we have a leader that is pushing what the law is.

  32. Dutch says:

    We fell for this garbage under Reagan back in the 80’s, they told us if we were to let them stay we would never have this problem again. Well look how that worked out for us. They must be eradicated from this country…..

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