There’s no actual definition of a “sanctuary city,” but the term normally refers to a city where rules are in place that restricts local and state authorities from identifying illegal immigrants to the federal government. This is the case because immigration enforcement is the responsibility of the federal government, but local and state officials can decide the extent to which the abide by these federal policies. As of September 7th of this year, there are approximately 165 cities and counties that cooperate on a limited scale with federal immigration policies. This reluctance to report undocumented immigrants can come from several places. Often, local authorities fear that if they make a report on an undocumented immigrant who was just released on criminal charges, it will dissuade local residents from reporting crimes for fear of deportation. In a similar vein, it is often viewed as a drain on state resources to deport citizens. The debate has been heated over the treatment of these sanctuary locations. For many, these cities are a nesting place for illegal immigrants who settle in localities and commit crimes. For others, these places are a necessity to continue the conversation on immigration with the support of local immigrants who enjoy the benefits of calling America home, and work diligently as they ascribe to basic U.S. values. In the dialogue about maintaining states’ rights to ignore certain federal immigration policy, is the belief that state officials make themselves sanctuary cities in order to preserve their communities and avoid the intense upheaval and backlash that would naturally follow what can turn into mass deportations.
With the elections coming up, the topic of sanctuary cities has resurfaced and various political figures are threatening or supporting the existence of these locations. Several Texas cities maintain this label, which is especially relevant as it sits along the Mexican border. Whatever the result from the upcoming election, we hope that Texas remains a sanctuary city so we can continue to help immigrants transition into life here in the states without the fear of deportation, and without losing the roots that they’ve already planted.