Debate over ‘sanctuary cities’ continues

Debate over ‘sanctuary cities’ continues

The killing of California's Kathryn Steinle by undocumented Mexican immigrant Francisco Sanchez last month sparked a hot debate over so-called "sanctuary cities" that restrict their law enforcement agencies from cooperating with Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) to prevent immigrants with no criminal records from being deported.

Many Republican and Democratic leaders have denounced the practice. Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas, recently introduced a bill designed to block sanctuary cities from receiving law enforcement grants.

In the 1990s, Immigration & Naturalization Services would come into cities without any prior notice and round up anyone suspected of being in the U.S. illegally. That prompted cities to enact their own policies with respect to immigrants.

But some experts are of the view that the term "sanctuary city" is not well understood.

Julia Mass, immigration attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said, "Its clear cities don't enforce immigration laws; they can't be forced to and they can't be forced to detain people for Immigration & Customs Enforcement. There are legal problems with those detainers."

Kevin Johnson, dean of University of California Davis School of Law, said sanctuary cities have different ordinances and regulations. Thus it is crucial to pay attention to the cities' particular rules; rather than using the term "sanctuary" for all such cities.

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