Since the election of Donald Trump, who promised the immediate deportation of criminal aliens (“bad hombres”) from the United States, many U.S. localities have redoubled their efforts to protect and offer “sanctuary” to immigrant populations. “Sanctuary cities”—and in some cases, states—impose a range of obstructive policies in order to make it as hard as possible for federal authorities to arrest and remove aliens eligible for deportation.
Originally, municipal sanctuary policy established a practice of non-inquiry regarding a resident’s immigration status. The policy has evolved into active non-cooperation with federal law enforcement, to the extent that Chicago, San Francisco, and New York City, for example, will not comply with requests to detain illegal immigrants unless they have recently been convicted of a serious crime and a judicial warrant accompanies the request. Federal immigration authorities have been banned from operating within municipal jails, and sanctuary cities will not expend any resources in assisting these agents.
Despite these efforts, it has not been possible for cities to protect their illegal aliens from deportation to the extent that sanctuary advocates demand. Cities cannot forbid federal officers from arresting criminal aliens in their homes, on the streets, or in courthouses. The best way to deter possible deportation, sanctuary advocates contend, is to limit interactions between illegal immigrants and the criminal-justice system, not in the traditional way—by obeying the law—but rather, by not enforcing the law. If there are no arrests, then there is no criminal record to base deportation orders on. For example, anti-incarceration and pro-illegal-alien groups have demanded an end to policing of quality-of-life offenses, on the grounds that arrest for “minor crimes” like farebeating or marijuana possession can lead to a noncitizen’s deportation. But officials aware of the importance of Broken Windows-style policing to public order are loath to give up on it.
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