In Favor of Sanctuary Cities

In Favor of Sanctuary Cities
Los inmigrantes defienden las "ciudades santuario".
Foto: (Archivo / El Diario)

In today’s session, the Senate will vote on Republican bill S.2146 prohibiting “sanctuary cities,” municipalities which offer protection to undocumented families to prevent local police from turning them in to immigration authorities. The measure resembles another one approved by the House of Representatives a few months ago.

Backers of the bill justify it on the grounds of criminal acts committed by some undocumented people, specifically referring to the case of a man who murdered a woman named Kate Steinle in San Francisco.

New York and Los Angeles (the latter under Special Order 40) are sanctuary cities, as well as a total of 300 municipalities throughout the U.S.

If the bill passes, federal funding will be denied to cities sheltering people who are in the country illegally. This would deprive local police departments of support, the opposite of what the federal government is supposed to do.

All this proves that the legislature’s ultimate purpose is to turn all immigrants into crime suspects undeserving of immigration reform, even though being in the country illegally is only an administrative offense.

Although no one opposes prosecuting and punishing criminals regardless of their immigration status, they accuse those who contest this measure of being more interested in protecting criminals than in “protecting the safety of law-abiding citizens.”

Thus, this is nothing but a political and demagogic measure. It follows the lead of characters such as the Party’s favorite presidential candidate, Donald Trump, who wishes to deport all “illegals” as well as their children, and who claims that his tough stance on illegal immigration would have prevented the 9/11 tragedy – ignoring that every one of the terrorists involved in the attack was in the U.S. legally.

The bill is a dangerous proposal that, far from advancing a solution to the immigration problem, only makes it more confusing and irrational. It ignores the reality of millions of honest, hard-working undocumented people. It purports to tell local police departments how to guarantee the public safety of their jurisdiction. It ignores the effects that such a law would have over the undocumented population, who, fearing deportation, will stop trusting and collaborating with the authorities.

Obviously, coordination among immigration and law and order authorities is necessary at all levels. Criminals of every kind must be penalized and separated from society. However, no one should take advantage of this self-evident truth to criminalize and punish a whole law-abiding community who seek to integrate to our society in a productive manner.