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Sanctuary: A Country Divided

California cities fight back against sanctuary laws, creating a rift between parties.

Students+show+support+for+a+proposed+ordinance+declaring+the+city+a+sanctuary+for+all+residents+regardless+of+immigration+status+at+Santa+Ana+City+Council+meeting+Tuesday.
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Sanctuary: A Country Divided

Students show support for a proposed ordinance declaring the city a sanctuary for all residents regardless of immigration status at Santa Ana City Council meeting Tuesday.

Students show support for a proposed ordinance declaring the city a sanctuary for all residents regardless of immigration status at Santa Ana City Council meeting Tuesday.

Thehowleronline.org

Students show support for a proposed ordinance declaring the city a sanctuary for all residents regardless of immigration status at Santa Ana City Council meeting Tuesday.

Thehowleronline.org

Thehowleronline.org

Students show support for a proposed ordinance declaring the city a sanctuary for all residents regardless of immigration status at Santa Ana City Council meeting Tuesday.

Anthony Karambelas, Staff Reporter

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In recent years, California has become synonymous with “sanctuary.” Home to nearly 25 percent of the country’s immigrant population, the Golden State certainly has reason to stand in solidarity with our international friends; or, so one would think.

Not all communities are on board with the SB 54 sanctuary law, also known as the California Values Act, signed in October of last year. The law officially prohibits local authorities from inquiring about immigration status and prevents local officials from executing the work of immigration agents.

This decision was met with a lawsuit from the Trump Administration in March. The suit challenged two other sanctuary-related laws besides SB 54 that were complicating the work of federal immigration officials to protect undocumented immigrants.

“Federal agents must be able to do the job that Congress has directed them to do,” said Attorney General Jeff-Sessions in a statement. “Although we would welcome the positive assistance the majority of jurisdictions in America provide, ICE agents do incredible work every day. They will not be deterred. We are simply asking California and other sanctuary jurisdictions to stop actively obstructing federal law enforcement.”

Though the suit was met with immediate resistance from California, in recent months that resistance has transformed into unprecedented support. As of Tuesday, Santa Clarita became the first Californian jurisdiction within Los Angeles County to sign on to Trump’s lawsuit, joining a various other Orange County and San Diego jurisdictions.

The lawsuit targets the unconstitutionality of these California laws, claiming that they violate the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution that designates precedence to federal legislation.

Whether the suit is effective or not is really up to interpretation. Many California communities, like Costa Mesa and Santa Clarita, have expressed their support through non-binding, superficial resolutions. The point, according to Councilman Allan Mansoor, is to show the Legislature that “we support upholding our laws.”

But this support, however non-binding, should not be treated lightly. Conservative forces are easily motivated over anti-immigration issues and any discord in California, one of the most liberal states, represents a threat to the left.

“It doesn’t mean that the City Council has the power to change anything right now,” said Raphael Sonenshein, Executive Director of the Pat Brown Institute. “But it elevates the issue and certainly Republicans see it as an issue that might bring people to the polls.”

At the moment, most Californians are in support of pro-sanctuary policies. The Jack Citrin Center for Public Opinion Research at UC Berkeley found that “56 percent of voters favor it, while 41 percent of voters are opposed.” Additionally, divisions of opinion were found across geographical lines, with the LA County, San Diego County and San Francisco Bay Area largely in support of sanctuary laws, and the Orange County, Central Valley and areas in Northern California in opposition.

Trump has applauded those jurisdictions who have expressed support for his lawsuit. He has consistently tweeted about sanctuary cities as a “ridiculous, crime infested & breeding concept” and has targeted California policies for “releasing violent criminals back into our communities, putting all Americans at risk.”

Ironically, research has shown that sanctuary cities are statistically safer. The Center for American Progress found that “there are, on average, 35.5 fewer crimes committed per 10,000 people in sanctuary counties compared to non sanctuary counties.” But not only are sanctuary cities safer, they also boast higher median household incomes, lower poverty rates and lower unemployment rates.

The Center for American Progress recently released a statement:

 “Altogether, the data suggest that when local law enforcement focuses on keeping communities safe, rather than becoming entangled in federal immigration enforcement efforts, communities are safer and community members stay more engaged in the local economy. This in turn brings benefits to individual households, communities, counties and the economy as a whole.”

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One Response to “Sanctuary: A Country Divided”

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