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The Truth About ‘Sanctuary Cities’

| June 11, 2018

A rally in defense of sanctuary cities. (Chris Devers)

A rally in defense of sanctuary cities. (Chris Devers)

By Lizet Ocampo

In a recent White House meeting on “sanctuary cities,” President Trump called some undocumented immigrants “animals” — a disturbing new low even for someone who’s demonized immigrant communities from the beginning. The president painted a picture of “sadistic criminals” who are being given “safe harbor” through so-called sanctuary policies.


While Trump and his right-wing supporters would have people believe that “sanctuary cities” are places that allow lawlessness and where immigrants aren’t prosecuted for crimes, the reality is far different.

Here are the facts: the federal government can enforce immigration law anywhere. The term “sanctuary city” typically refers to a jurisdiction that wants to limit the use of locallaw enforcement resources to carry out federal law enforcement work, especially when they’re asked to violate constitutional protections.

While these cities focus their resources on fighting local crime, they can still work with the federal government on immigration enforcement, since federal agents can issue a warrant. This is especially the case in situations where an undocumented person has carried out a serious crime — as opposed to someone who, for example, happens to have a broken taillight.

Experts note that undermining “sanctuary cities,” which are more accurately called “safe cities,” often isn’t good for anyone.

As two police chiefs from Storm Lake and Marshalltown, Iowa recently explained: “We depend on residents, including immigrants, to come to us when they see something suspicious or potentially criminal. If they hear of a looming ‘crackdown’ that could affect their families and friends, they are less likely to come to us to report and prevent actual crimes.”

A law enforcement association representing some of the largest cities in the country has similarly argued that asking local police to do the work of federal immigration officers would likely lead not only to more crime against immigrants, but also to more crime overall.

other-wordsAnd a 2017 analysis from the University of California at San Diego found that “counties designated as ‘sanctuary’ areas by ICE typically experience significantly lower rates of all types of crime“ than comparable counties without such policies in place.

While ongoing police abuse against communities of color has underscored the urgent need for police reform and the rebuilding of deeply damaged community-police trust, further eroding trust by attempting to dismantle “safe cities” policies would be a significant step in the wrong direction.

Despite the facts, Trump and his administration want to scapegoat immigrants, appealing to fear and racism rather than actually looking at which policies are most effective.

Time and again, Trump entangles two separate issues — immigration and crime — by telling gruesome stories about crimes committed by immigrants that exploit the pain of victims’ families and aim to demonize entire communities. (When it comes to crime against immigrants however, the administration is mysteriously silent.)

The reality is that immigrants are actually less likely to commit crimes than people who were born here — and that immigrants who do commit crimes go through our criminal justice system, just like everyone else.

Especially as Trump’s administration is reaching new levels of cruelty by separating children and parents at our borders, we have to be vigilant in countering the use of any dehumanizing lies for political gain. We have to push our elected officials to stand up to Trump’s dangerous anti-immigrant agenda.

Our public policies should be grounded in our shared values and in sound data about what works and what doesn’t work in our communities — never in fear-mongering.

Lizet Ocampo is the political director of People For the American Way.

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10 Responses for “The Truth About ‘Sanctuary Cities’”

  1. Herman says:

    He called MS13 animals and the author of this knows it. Makes the rest of the article typical liberal BS. The right does not have an issue with LEGAL immigration. We are all immigrants. We have an issue with our laws not being respected and not being enforced. Until the left understands that, your blue wave and the future of the Democrat party will fizzle.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Personally speaking I will vote this election for candidates who prioritize citizens over illegal aliens, those who oppose sanctuary cities, amnesty and taxpayer funded in state college tuition discounts for illegals. That means
    no Democrats.

    When will politicians and people in general figure out that when you reward illegal immigration with jobs, amnesty, drivers licenses, discounts for college tuition, scholarships encourages MORE illegal entry.. Illegal immigration negativity effects our economy from employment to use public services. Just debating this in congress is costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars….. thank the parents. Another concern is the real “immigrants” who have waited in line? The “dreamers” don’t care about them, but we as a country should.

    We have over 800,000 “dreamers” (authorized illegal aliens) and probably another 2 million non DACA illegals in our country taking jobs. These are jobs American citizens have lost or are in competition for.They are not all picking strawberries as the MSM / Democrats would like you to believe. Nor are they “children” or “kids. (another MSM / Dem deception.)

    Another myth, America is not splitting up families, that decision is theirs. I don’t know how these dreamers can wave goodbye to their parents being deported but they do so every day. Its ALL about them. Selfish.

    With over 100,000 veterans homeless you would think that would be a priority Not so.

    Just some of the costs associated with illegal immigration, we will pass this burden on to our children and grand children as has been passed on to us.

    *The cost of educating illegal aliens children is staggering. From K-12 it costs taxpayers $122,000 for EACH illegal alien student. This does not include the billions spent on bilingual education for illegal aliens.

    *Currently city, and state officials are appropriating millions of taxpayer dollarsfor legal fees to to file law suits and in defense of illegal aliens being deported.

    *2012 illegal aliens sent home $62 BILLION in remittances back to their countries of origin. This is why Mexico is getting involved in our politics.

    *30% percent of all Federal Prison inmates are illegal aliens.Does not include local jails and State Prisons. At $21,000 per year expense per inmate in Federal Prison U do the math.

    *$3Million Dollars a DAY is spent to incarcerate illegal aliens, I repeat 3 MILLIONa DAY to process Illegals in the Criminal justice system.

    *$2.2Billion dollars a year is spent on is spent on food assistance programs such asSNAP (food stamps) WIC, & free school lunches.All can be found on google.

    http://www.illegalaliencrimereport.com/

    https://theremembranceproject.org/

    https://www.fairus.org/…/fiscal-burden-illegal…

  3. Gabrielle says:

    President Trump was referring to MS13 gang members, not all illegal aliens. MS13 members are monsters, and I think that calling them animals is an insult to the animal kingdom. Sanctuary cities are harboring criminals. If this so called “political director” Lizet Ocampo is going to have something published, at least she should not make up stories to fit her political agenda. President Trump is not against immigrants. He, like many Americans, are against ILLEGALS. If one has at least average intelligence, it’s easy to distinguish the difference between a LEGAL immigrant (I am one of them), and ILLEGAL immigrants. If you are here ILLEGALLY, you are doing something illegal, therefore you are a criminal. Stop with the nonsense, if you don’t like to follow the laws of this country, you don’t belong in a civilized society. We don’t want America to turn into a third world country like where these gang members come from.

  4. Dave says:

    Americans are on welfare so we need illegals to do the work we dont want to do, god bless sanctuary cities. Love

  5. Stranger in a strange land says:

    Ohhh Kay….so, let’s just suppose, in the not too distant future, the worst horrible nightmare of some of you out there comes true….THE SECOND AMENDMENT IS REPEALED OR WEAKENED!!!! Federal law requires the registering of weapons deemed strictly for hunting. All other weapons are determined to be a public menace and an instrument of terrorism. The federal government REQUIRES all state and local law enforcement to make the registering of hunting rifles and the confiscation of all other weapons a top priority and that state and local law enforcement fully cooperate with federal law enforcement. Needless to say, some states would resist this over reach of federal powers. However, because the conservative supreme court of 2019 forced states and cities to support federal law enforcement in it’s zeal to harass undocumented immigrants, set a precedent of federal dominance over stae and local authorities. Be careful what you wish for Trumpsters. The constitution and founding fathers were suspicious of an over-reaching central government for good reason. Undermine it at your own risk.

  6. Brian says:

    This lady complains about “lies” – and the FIRST sentence of her article is a lie! And “ongoing police abuse against communities of color” and “deeply damaged community-police trust”. Too funny. I have yet to see any police department or law enforcement agency stage a “no justice, no peace” rally, when they have far greater grounds for racial complaint than say, Black Lives Matter. From 2000 to 2012 70% of all cop killers were black, yet they are 13% of the population. That fact is not allowed in polite company, however, because race-baiting is tolerated in only one direction. I realize that the left is averse to letting facts get in the way of their agenda, but statistics indicate that justified shootings of blacks constitute a minute fraction – and unjustified police shootings, an almost imperceptible fraction – of homicides of blacks, which are overwhelmingly committed by other blacks. So don’t be fooled by the left-wing liberal spew as demonstrated by this article.

  7. Dave says:

    Smh Brian, just the way u twist your alternate facts shows which side of this civil war you are on. I’m sorry but you can’t fool the people with your racist alternate facts. That wont work here.

  8. knightwatch says:

    When I hear or see in writing protestations by right-wing conservatives that they’re not against immigration, just “illegal” immigration, I just about choke on their BS. They are merely mouthing another of a series of right-wing mantras pushed by Faux “News” –” we’re not against legal immigration”; “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”; “it’s not discrimination, it’s freedom of religion”; “it’s not insulting people of different races, cultures or religions, it’s merely being not politically correct”– and on and on and on. The right-wing can hide behind their self-delusional groupthink, but most Americans know them for what they are…historical revisionists, anti-anything not white western European-centric, anti-globalist and anti-multicultural. In short, firmly stuck in the 19th century and fearful of losing their racist, misogynist and xenophobic hold on American society. Time and biology will fix that problem and the rest of the world will march resolutely into the 21st Century.ut them.

  9. Fredrick says:

    Thank you knightwatch. You represent why the liberals will continue to wither on the vine. It is unfortunate. We need to have a strong two part system. But until the Democrat party wakes up and continues to call the other side all the names in your post, you will never recover. That goes for the faux Republicans. Outsiders will continue to get elected to replace them until they start to listen to the silent majority. Maybe that’s a good thing. Keep it up, keep your head in the sand… you will be lost forever.

  10. Sherry says:

    Excellent point Knightwatch!

    Brian and others who are also factually challenged. . . let’s look at some actual statistics, shall we:

    POLICE KILLING OF BLACKS: Data for 2015, 2016, 2017
    Todd Beer on March 1, 2018
    Updated May 23rd, 2018

    Data collected by the Washington Post on the use of lethal force by police officers in 2015, 2016, and 2017 indicate that, relative to the portion of the population, Blacks are over-represented among all those killed by police under all circumstances. According to the US Census estimates of 2015 (the most recent available), Blacks made up 13% of the population. However, in 2015 they accounted for 26% of those that were killed by police, in 2016, 24%, and in 2017, 22% of all those killed by police. In other words, Blacks were the victims of the lethal use of force by police at nearly twice their rate in the general population.

    Whites make up the plurality of victims of police use of lethal force (45% in 2017), BUT they also make the majority of the population (62% in 2015). As of April 2, 2018, 58 Blacks (21% of the 277 people), 121 Whites, and 37 Hispanic/Latinos had been killed by police.

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