Sanctuary city policies exist in several hundred municipalities across the United States.
These policies limit assistance to federal immigration authorities and were originally intended to protect refugees from deportation in the 1980s.
However, they have been doing less protecting and more offending lately, as Americans saw after the July murder of Kate Steinle in San Francisco, which is one of America’s sanctuary cities.
American’s reactions to the murder of Ms. Steinle at the hands of seven-time convicted felon and five-time deportee, Juan Fransisco Lopez-Sanchez, continue to echo nationwide and have inspired many citizens and legislators to voice their desires for change in laws and policies surrounding sanctuary cities.
“The policies of the Obama Administration and sanctuary jurisdictions across our country are inexcusable, and they are a threat to the safety of the American people,” said 2016 GOP Presidential Candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
But, despite much public outrage and further calls for action by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who urged his colleagues to “put compassion before left-wing ideology,” Democrats voted down the Stop Sanctuary Cities Act in October.
If enacted, it would have become unlawful for local governments to refuse to comply with immigration-related detainers from the Department of Homeland Security and a five-year mandatory minimum sentence would have been imposed on aliens who illegally reenter the United States after having been convicted of an aggravated felony or two prior reentry offenses.
Yet, while the Congressmen behind the Stop Sanctuary Cities Act have not successfully targeted sanctuary cities as they had hoped, states seem to be making some more headway.
Most recently, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law the “Protect North Carolina Workers Act,” which prohibits North Carolina municipalities and counties from restricting local law enforcement’s ability to cooperate with federal immigration officials and requires state and local government agencies to use the E-Verify system to check the legal status of job applicants and contractors.
Additionally, a Michigan Senate bill has been introduced to prohibit local units of government from restricting communication or cooperation with appropriate federal immigration officials.
If other states continue to follow suit, Americans could see the end of sanctuary cities, but sweeping nationwide changes in law and policy have yet to be seen.
Madison Gesiotto is a staff editor for the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law.