Sanc­tu­ary city idea may aid mi­grants

The Record (Troy, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By ASTRID GAL­VAN and MOR­GAN LEE

PHOENIX » An idea floated by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to send im­mi­grants from the bor­der to “sanc­tu­ary cities” to ex­act re­venge on Demo­cratic foes could end up do­ing the mi­grants a fa­vor by plac­ing them in lo­ca­tions that make it eas­ier to put down roots and stay in the coun­try.

The plan would put thou­sands of im­mi­grants in cities that are not only wel­com­ing to them, but also more likely to re­buff fed­eral of­fi­cials car­ry­ing out de­por­ta­tion or­ders.

Many of th­ese lo­ca­tions have more re­sources to help im­mi­grants make their le­gal cases to stay in the United States than smaller cities, with some of the na­tion’s big­gest im­mi­gra­tion ad­vo­cacy groups based in places like San Fran­cisco, New York City and Chicago. The down­side for the im­mi­grants would be a high cost of liv­ing in the cities.

The Trans­ac­tional Records Ac­cess Clear­ing­house at Syra­cuse Univer­sity an­nounced this week that an anal­y­sis found that im­mi­grants in sanc­tu­ary cities such as New York and Los An­ge­les are 20% less likely to be ar­rested out in the com­mu­nity than in cities with­out such poli­cies.

“With im­mi­grants be­ing less likely to com­mit crimes than the U.S.-born pop­u­la­tion, and with sanc­tu­ary ju­ris­dic­tions be­ing safer and more pro­duc­tive than non- sanc­tu­ary ju­ris­dic­tions, the data damns this pro­posal as a po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated stunt that seeks to play politics with peo­ples’ lives,” said Ge­orge Gas­con, dis­trict at­tor­ney for San Fran­cisco.

Trump has grown in­creas­ingly frus­trated over the sit­u­a­tion at the bor­der, where tens of thou­sands of im­mi­grant fam­i­lies are cross­ing each month, many to claim asy­lum. His ad­min­is­tra­tion has at­tempted sev­eral ef­forts to stop the flow, and he re­cently shook up the top ranks of the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity.

The idea to ship im­mi­grants to Demo­cratic strongholds was con­sid­ered twice in re­cent months, but the White House and De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity said the plan had been re­jected. But Trump said Fri­day he was still con­sid­er­ing the idea.

“Due to the fact that Democrats are un­will­ing to change our very dan­ger­ous im­mi­gra­tion laws, we are in­deed, as re­ported, giv­ing strong con­sid­er­a­tions to plac­ing Il­le­gal Im­mi­grants in Sanc­tu­ary Cities only,” Trump tweeted. He added that, “The Rad­i­cal Left al­ways seems to have an Open

Borders, Open Arms pol­icy - so this should make them very happy!”

Asked about the pro­posal Sun­day, White House press sec­re­tary Sarah San­ders said it was “not the ideal so­lu­tion.”

“The pres­i­dent heard the idea, he likes it,” she told ABC’s “This Week,” adding that it is among sev­eral op­tions be­ing re­viewed by the White House. “The pres­i­dent likes the idea and Democrats have said they want th­ese in­di­vid­u­als into their com­mu­ni­ties so let’s see if it works and every­body gets a win out of it.” She said she hopes Democrats will work with the pres­i­dent on a com­pre­hen­sive im­mi­gra­tion bill.

Wil­son Romero is an im­mi­grant from Hon­duras who chose to set­tle in the San Fran­cisco Bay Area.

Romero, 27, was sep­a­rated from his daugh­ter, now 7, by fed­eral au­thor­i­ties at the U.S. bor­der at El Paso, Texas, last year and jailed for three months be­fore be­ing re­leased and mak­ing his way to live with his mother in San Jose, Cal­i­for­nia. There he was re­united with his daugh­ter, who at­tends pub­lic kinder­garten.

Romero says he goes about daily er­rands in pub­lic with­out worry of dis­crim­i­na­tion. His daugh­ter has made friends and has play­dates with the chil­dren of Mex­i­can Amer­i­can fam­i­lies. It’s a far cry from his home­town in the vi­o­len­ce­plagued out­skirts of San Pe­dro Sula, Hon­duras, that he fled af­ter his brother-in-law was killed.

To him, the big­gest prob­lem with be­ing in the Bay Area is the high cost of liv­ing. The for­mer tex­tile fac­tory worker re­lies on his mother’s in­come from wait­ress­ing for food and cloth­ing, and he’s started think­ing about ask­ing le­gal per­mis­sion to move to North Carolina, where an un­cle re­sides and says it’s cheaper to live and work.

“To tell the truth, it’s a lit­tle tight now, fi­nan­cially speak­ing,” said Romero, a for­mer tex­tile fac­tory worker, who said he doesn’t know of any char­i­ties that may be will­ing to help.

The plan dis­cussed by Trump would also have fi­nan­cial, lo­gis­ti­cal and le­gal is­sues.

The trans­porta­tion of im­mi­grants who are ar­rested at the bor­der to large and far­away cities would be bur­den­some and costly at a time when Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment is al­ready stretched thin, hav­ing re­leased over 125,000 im­mi­grants into the coun­try pend­ing their im­mi­gra­tion court since Dec. 21. They are cur­rently be­ing re­leased mainly in bor­der states.

Flights char­tered by ICE cost about $7,785 per flight hour, ac­cord­ing to the agency, and re­quire mul­ti­ple staffers, in­clud­ing an in­flight med­i­cal pro­fes­sional. The agency also uses com­mer­cial flights. Do­ing longer trans­ports would in­crease li­a­bil­ity for the agency, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing that many of the im­mi­grants in its care are fam­i­lies with young chil­dren.

And de­spite the con­sid­er­a­tion given to re­leas­ing the im­mi­grants on the streets to sanc­tu­ary cities, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion ac­tu­ally has plenty of jail space to de­tain fam­i­lies. As of April 11, the na­tion’s three fa­cil­i­ties to de­tain im­mi­grant fam­i­lies were nowhere near ca­pac­ity, in­clud­ing a Penn­syl­va­nia fa­cil­ity hous­ing only nine im­mi­grants.

It’s also un­clear how long the im­mi­grants would stay in th­ese cities be­cause they are re­quired to pro­vide an ad­dress to fed­eral au­thor­i­ties - typ­i­cally of a fam­ily mem­ber - as a con­di­tion of their re­lease.

“It’s il­log­i­cal,” said An­gela Chan, pol­icy di­rec­tor and se­nior at­tor­ney with the San Fran­cisco- based Asian Law Cau­cus. “It’s just alarm­ing that they are spend­ing so much ef­fort and so much time to en­gage in po­lit­i­cal theater.”

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has long pushed back against cities with sanc­tu­ary poli­cies, which gen­er­ally pro­hibit lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to cooperate with fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion po­lice, of­ten by re­fus­ing to hold peo­ple ar­rested on lo­cal charges past their re­lease date at the re­quest of im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cers. Over 100 lo­cal gov­ern­ments around the coun­try have adopted a va­ri­ety of th­ese po­lices

“New York City will al­ways be the ul­ti­mate city of im­mi­grants - the Pres­i­dent’s empty threats won’t change that,” New York City Mayor Bill De­Bla­sio said in a state­ment.

But Trump seemed ready to step up his fight with the cities, vow­ing to “give them an un­lim­ited sup­ply” of im­mi­grants from the bor­der.

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