A Wisconsin congressman has reintroduced the Ending Sanctuary Cities Act of 2021: a bill that restricts the freedom and protection of immigrants in the United States. Here’s what you should know.
What Are Sanctuary Cities?
The term “sanctuary city” isn’t exactly correct. In the United States, some areas have specific protections for immigrants. However, the term refers more broadly to sanctuary policies that allow law enforcement to turn immigrants with criminal convictions over to immigration officials for deportation instead of low-priority undocumented persons.
Sanctuary policies protect immigrants from discrimination when they come in contact with law enforcement. For example, in areas without sanctuary policies, an officer may pull an immigrant over for speeding. Instead of following standard procedures for a traffic stop, the officer may arrest the person if they are undocumented and turn them over to ICE officials.
If an immigrant has an arrest on their record, ICE officers may issue a detainer, take them into custody, and schedule them for deportation. These policies are especially important because any suspected or proven lawbreaking is added to the person’s file. This file contains a wealth of personal information that ICE can use to issue a detainer.
It’s important to note that being undocumented isn’t a crime, but if an undocumented person is convicted of a crime, they will face deportation. Police and ICE officers have limits on the freedom to perform an arrest, and in sanctuary cities, minor infractions like spreading are not the priority.
Instead, law enforcement focuses on arresting serious criminals who pose an active threat to public safety. In general, these protections help curb crime and make it safer for immigrants to live and work in the area. Studies have shown that not only do sanctuary laws cut down on offense, but they also give immigrants the freedom to feel like they can report violence and abuse without fear of deportation.
So, if sanctuary laws are positive, why would a Congressman want to end them? Let’s take a look.
The Ending Sanctuary Cities Act of 2021 was initially introduced by Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) earlier this year. It was reintroduced to Congress by Representative Glen Grothman (R-WI) in May, hoping that his fellow congressmen and women would vote in favor.
According to Grothman, “Our job is to keep Americans safe and our country secure […]. Not enforcing our current immigration laws is a public safety issue […].”
If passed, S. 875 would penalize states for “harboring illegal criminals” and remove funding incentives for protection. Congressman Grothman and Senator Kennedy are not the only representatives by far who share these sentiments. Even President Biden spoke out against sanctuary cities when he ran for office in 2007.
The fear that the sponsors of S. 875 have is that of local officials getting away with obeying federal law. Sanctuary policies permit local officials to deprioritize illegal immigrants, but they do not give them the power to ignore federal laws.
The Supreme Court has agreed that only the federal government should be responsible for immigration and that forcing local jurisdictions to do so would be an abuse of power.
If this bill becomes law, there are real safety concerns for immigrants living in sanctuary cities across the United States. Ohio alone has eight sanctuary locations where migrants can live peacefully without fear. If S. 875 were to pass, Ohio law enforcement officers and officials would be able to arrest and turn over immigrants to ICE.
What Happens Next
The Ending Sanctuary Cities Act of 2021 is in the very first stages of the legal process and has been sent to a committee for review. There’s still a long road ahead for this law, but it’s important to take action now rather than wait for the other shoe to drop.
If you are attempting to gain immigration status in the United States, contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. Sintsirmas & Mueller Co. L.P.A. has the experience and dedication you need to exercise your rights and protect your future.