Sanctuary Cities and the Law

Sanctuary Cities and the Law

by Gordon Jeremiah Berry

A sanctuary city is a name to a given city in the United States that follows certain procedures that shelters illegal immigrant(s), from the fear of deportation.

Legal Terms of Sanctuary Cities

Image @ Wikimedia
Image @ Wikimedia

Basic legal terms that are often referred to when addressing sanctuary cities are “de jure” and “de facto”. De jure is a Latin term which means “concerning law”. This legal term is believed to be a legitimate law, despite several attempts to dismiss it, re-word it, re-define it, and reject it.

De facto is also a Latin term that means, “in fact” or “in reality”. Such law may mean existing in fact of whether with lawful authority or not. It may also fail to “fully satisfy” its existence as a legislative creation. Yet, such laws “have the right” to exist, if it is found to be “in good faith”. A de facto law may or may not also have “legal standing authority” both in court and with government officers that attempt to enforce law from the state or local level within the United States.

The term “sanctuary city” came from a church-movement in the 1980s. During that time period, thousands of Central American refugees came to the United States seeking protection from civil wars, and most were denied asylum. Several religious institutions joined forces and this became the “sanctuary movement”.

However, just before this, the Los Angeles California police department implemented a policy that was also very similar, known as “Special Order 40”. It later became used to describe community policies that attempted to eliminate fear from those who worry about reporting a crime or interacting with local law enforcement that could result in deportation.

Last dated policy regarding immigration is known as the (IIRIRA Act) Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility. Nothing in that particular law deals with address sanctuary cities.

Sanctuary Cities and Federal Grant Money

Cities and counties within the United States that either qualify or cooperate with the qualifications of a “sanctuary city” receive federal grant money from three policy committees. State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP), Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), and Byrne-JAG grants (Edward Bynre Memorial Justice Assistance Grants). In total, it is an estimated $780 million dollars of federal grant money for 2016. In all, 364 counties have policies with limited cooperation.

Are Sanctuary Cities Lawful? 

While many may say that having a sanctuary city type of policy helps establish an improved relationship with the immigrant community, other may say, sanctuary cities become more attractive to illegal aliens, thus increasing the economic burden on the city to support the illegal immigrant population.

Any interpretation is somewhat meaningless due to the fact that “sanctuary cities” is not a legal term and municipalities cannot be criminalized for choosing to help the federal law enforcement agencies.

Immigrants and Migration

According to Global Citizen, the top five reasons why people migrate from one location to another throughout the world is, first, to escape past or present persecution based on race, religion, nationally, or membership in a particular social group or political opinion. Second, to escape conflict or violence, third, to find refuge after being displaced by a natural disaster, fourth, to seek superior healthcare, and fifth, to escape poverty.

This creates a very bleak hope for those that want to seek asylum, thus for those that are rejected, they would rather deal with being an illegal immigrant in another country than living with extremely difficult circumstances. It is a problem that is occurring and getting worse, it is a global problem.

Sometimes, an unwritten law is formed to show humanity not only what the underlining problems of society are, it shows us were we are, who we are, in the attempt to address the concerns of humankind.

About the Author

Gordon Jeremiah Berry, is an avid reader and intense researcher. Mr. Berry looks for the deeper meaning behind all things. His favorite saying is “Love must always win out!”

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