What is a Sanctuary City or State?

Statue of Liberty

In this interview, Yakov Spektor explains what a Sanctuary State and City is and how it affects undocumented immigrants. Please watch the video below to know more.

Understanding the concept of sanctuary cities and states is essential in today’s complex immigration landscape. These principles embody policies aimed at safeguarding the rights of undocumented immigrants, but what exactly does this mean?


The Concept of a “Sanctuary”

The term ‘sanctuary’ has a rich history, with its roots in providing a place of safety or refuge. Traditionally, the concept of sanctuary held religious connotations often used to refer to sacred places that provided asylum or protection from pursuit.

Today, ‘sanctuary’ is often used to describe cities and states that have enacted policies to limit their cooperation with the federal government’s efforts to enforce immigration laws.

In essence, these sanctuary cities and states offer a form of refuge for immigrants, particularly those undocumented, by choosing not to comply with federal immigration enforcement fully. This policy can include not allowing local police to inquire about an individual’s immigration status or not holding immigrants beyond their release date at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) unless there is a warrant.

Through this evolution, the concept of a sanctuary has expanded from a traditionally religious connotation to a modern political and social one, symbolizing safety and protection for immigrant communities within the US.


The Function and Purpose of Sanctuary Cities

Sanctuary cities and states serve a critical role in the U.S. immigration landscape. Let’s delve into why they exist and their function in protecting undocumented immigrants:

  • Providing Protection: The primary function of sanctuary cities and states is to protect undocumented immigrants. They achieve this by limiting their cooperation with the federal government in enforcing immigration laws.
  • Promoting Trust: Sanctuary cities aim to foster a sense of trust between the local law enforcement agencies and immigrant communities. By not actively participating in immigration enforcement, local police can build better relationships with these communities, leading to improved public safety as immigrants are less likely to avoid reporting crimes.
  • Supporting Community Welfare: Another crucial role of sanctuary cities is promoting the welfare of all residents, irrespective of their immigration status. They often enact policies that support everyone’s access to city services, education, and healthcare.
  • Regulating Local Resources: Sanctuary cities use their resources to benefit local communities rather than enforcing federal immigration laws. This means that local police can focus on local community issues rather than being burdened with national responsibilities.

Understanding these functions underscores the value sanctuary cities and states provide in protecting the rights of undocumented immigrants. They serve as a buffer between federal immigration enforcement and undocumented immigrants, providing a safer, more inclusive environment where these individuals can live, work, and contribute to their local communities without the constant fear of deportation.


The Impact of Government Policies on Immigrants

The lives of immigrants are significantly affected by the policies of different administrations. Different presidents have taken varying approaches toward immigration enforcement, and these policy changes directly impact the level of protection offered to immigrants in sanctuary cities and states.


Sanctuary Cities versus Sanctuary States

While the principles guiding sanctuary cities and states are relatively similar, the primary difference lies in the scope of their jurisdiction. A sanctuary city’s policies apply within the confines of the city, while a sanctuary state’s policies have a broader reach, affecting all cities and towns within the state.

For instance, a sanctuary city like New York City has implemented policies to protect its vast and diverse immigrant population. These policies limit the city’s cooperation with federal immigration enforcement actions, contributing to the safety and overall welfare of the city’s immigrant residents. It’s worth noting that while New York City is a sanctuary city, New York State does not have statewide sanctuary policies.

In a sanctuary state, however, these protections extend beyond a single city to all jurisdictions within the state. This means that regardless of whether an immigrant lives in a metropolitan area or a small town within the state, they can expect the same level of protection from local authorities.

While sanctuary cities and states both aim to protect undocumented immigrants, the level of protection an immigrant experiences can vary significantly depending on whether they live in a sanctuary city, a sanctuary state, or a jurisdiction that is both. Understanding these differences is crucial in navigating the complex landscape of immigration law and policy.


The Risks of Living Outside Sanctuary Cities

Living outside sanctuary cities or states carries a distinct set of challenges for undocumented immigrants. Their location often dictates the level of protection they can expect, and living in non-sanctuary jurisdictions can expose them to certain risks:

  1. Increased Cooperation with Federal Enforcement: Non-sanctuary jurisdictions often cooperate more fully with federal immigration enforcement. This can result in an increased chance of detention or deportation for undocumented immigrants.
  2. Limited Access to Services: Without the protective policies of sanctuary cities, undocumented immigrants may have less access to city services, education, and healthcare.
  3. Fear and Anxiety: Living in non-sanctuary jurisdictions can lead to increased fear and anxiety for undocumented immigrants due to potential interactions with law enforcement.

Given these risks, Yakov Spektor offers essential advice for immigrants living outside of sanctuary cities:

  • Knowing Your Rights: Regardless of location, all individuals have fundamental rights under the U.S. Constitution. Knowing these rights can help protect you in interactions with law enforcement.
  • Seeking Professional Legal Advice: If you’re undocumented or concerned about your immigration status, consulting with an immigration attorney can provide the information and advice you need.

Understanding these risks and following Yakov’s advice can help undocumented immigrants living outside sanctuary cities navigate their situation with more confidence and security. While the risks are real, these steps can provide protection and peace of mind.


Federal Monitoring and Deportation

Deportation proceedings can be a complex and daunting process for immigrants. Federal monitoring of immigrants varies, including measures like ankle bracelets and holding immigrants in detention centers while their immigration status is determined.


Criminal Records and Deportation

Having a criminal record can significantly impact an immigrant’s status. Yakov advises immigrants with a criminal record to seek legal advice to understand potential impacts and rights.


Understanding Sanctuary Cities and States

Sanctuary cities and states serve a crucial role in safeguarding the rights of undocumented immigrants. From understanding the historical concept of a sanctuary to recognizing the potential risks of living outside these areas, it’s essential to stay informed about the dynamics of immigration law.

If you’re seeking legal advice, please contact Yakov Spektor. Watch the full YouTube interview for a comprehensive understanding of the topic.

The U.S. immigration system is one of the most complicated systems globally. That said, it’s best to seek help from an experienced immigration lawyer and avoid navigating these complicated immigration laws, issues, and procedures on your own.

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