The Battle Over Sanctuary Cities and Immigration Enforcement

Immigration Enforcement

Late last month, President Trump issued an executive order to support immigration enforcement by punishing local governments that do not comply with federal authorities. In these so-called “sanctuary cities,” local officials have refused to detain or hand over illegal immigrants for removal. President Trump’s executive order has led to questions over the process of deportation and how a sanctuary city can interfere with that process.

Immigration Enforcement and Sanctuary CitiesAs it currently stands, federal law does not require local authorities to detain illegal immigrants solely based on the fact that they are not in the country legally. Federal courts across the country have held that complying with a federal counterparts request to detain an individual is voluntary. President Trump’s executive order directs federal immigration agents to target a much broader group of illegal immigrants for removal. Prior to the order, an individual had to be convicted of a crime to trigger the crime based grounds for removal. The order signed by President Trump calls for the removal of any individuals who “have committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense or pose a risk to public safety in the judgment of an immigration officer.” The problem with this directive is that federal agents rely on local police to enforce detention policy. This is where sanctuary cities factor into the equation.

Jails are typically run by counties, and local law enforcement are usually the first point of contact in the removal process. Therefore, local policies governing the detention of illegal immigrants can often matter more to these individuals than the federal policy. In sanctuary cities, local law enforcement officials choose not to detain or trigger the deportation process for any illegal immigrant they come in contact with for various reasons. Police and politicians in sanctuary cities say they don’t want to deter anyone from coming to them for help or to report a crime. If a person can be deported for providing the police with information, they may be unwilling to come forward and provide information that can be extremely valuable to police officers when solving crimes. Thus, sanctuary cities are not necessarily designed as a political statement but can be a legitimate response to the concerns of law enforcement and local officials.

Recently, however, the creation of sanctuary cities has been very political. Columbus’  Mayor, Andrew Ginther, signed an executive order directing local officials to abstain from using local resources to enforce efforts to detain and deport undocumented immigrants in support of Columbus’ large refugee community. Ginther, who is a democrat, took issue with President Trump’s mandates concerning immigration enforcement. The mayor’s action prompted a swift response from Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel who publicly backed a proposed state law to not only ban sanctuary cities in Ohio but also hold city officials criminally and civilly liable for crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.



If you need a Criminal Lawyer or Immigration Attorney, call Attorney W. Joseph Edwards 614-309-0243 who has over 25 years experience representing clients in these legal matters. You can also follow us on Facebook at:


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