Sanctuary Cities

Sanctuary cities come into play when an undocumented/illegal immigrant comes into contact with the police. A very common occurrence of this happens on the road, someone “is speeding, has a broken taillight, or has a broken license plate light,” and is pulled over.

If a person is undocumented/illegal, chances are they do not have a “valid” driver’s license. Twelve states and the District of Columbia allow immigrants to legally drive. Immigrants still have to get to work and school somehow, but being found without a valid driver’s license can get an individual arrested.

Other reasons immigrants, just like native-born Americans, come into contact with the police include an immigrant calling the police to their house, for example in the case of a domestic dispute, a car accident, drug usage, police checkpoints, and so forth.

Once an immigrant is arrested, their information gets put into a federal database that is shared with “Immigration and Customs Enforcement” (ICE).

ICE can then issue a hold, also called a detainer, asking the police to hold that person in “custody” until ICE can come pick that person up for immigration detention and eventual deportation.

Here’s where we get to important legal point #1: being undocumented is not a crime. It’s a civil violation. Undocumented immigrants have rights under the U.S. Constitution. And according to due process, the police cannot detain anyone who hasn’t at least been suspected of a crime.

If a police officer encounters someone walking down the street who turns out to be undocumented, they cannot arrest that person because that person has not committed a crime. ICE, however, can. Similarly, if the police arrest someone undocumented, for example, someone suspected of committing a crime, who is then cleared, they must let that person go.

In a sanctuary city, the police will release an “arrested” immigrant after he/she has been cleared of charges, posted bail, or completed jail time for whatever he/she was arrested for.

A non-sanctuary city will “hold” that person until ICE can come pick them up.

Keep in mind that entering the country “illegally” is in fact a crime. It doesn’t matter to what “degree” of a crime it is, it is still “against” immigration law and that is a “crime.”

If someone wants to “immigrate” to the US for whatever reason, they must obtain or present “proper type of documentation” as they enter.

Even visitors and US citizens must show a “passport” when they arrive in the US from another country. Keep that fact in mind.

Kirsten Gillibrand: Illegal Immigrants Should NOT Be Detained, But Released Into Communities

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