What is a Sanctuary City? How Does It Work?

You may have heard about sanctuary cities in the news. In fact, right now the Texas Legislature is considering banning sanctuary cities in the state. But, what is a sanctuary city? How does it work for immigrants? And can living in one protect you from deportation?

A sanctuary city is a location where officials refuse to hand over undocumented immigrants to the U.S. government for deportation. According to a recent compliance report by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, there are 168 counties in the United States where more than 11 million undocumented immigrants live. These cities either ignore or refuse detainer requests from ICE, meaning that they will not detain immigrants in jail beyond their release date. However, the definition of a sanctuary city is a bit clouded — for example, a few suburbs surrounding Houston are considered sanctuary cities. However, none of the state’s county jails decline detainer requests.

Why would a sanctuary city do this? Many officials say they want to reduce the fear of deportation and prevent a family from breaking up. By doing so, officials believe that these undocumented immigrants will be more willing to report crimes, use health and social services, and even enroll their children in school.

But does this mean if you’re living in a sanctuary city, you will not be deported? Not necessarily. ICE still has the power to detain an immigrant who has committed a crime or is in the country illegally, no matter if the local authorities cooperate or not. According to a recent Slate article, if you are arrested, the police will collect your fingerprints while booking you into custody. Those fingerprints are shared automatically with federal authorities, no matter if the police want to share the information or not. If the records alert ICE that a suspected undocumented immigrant has been arrested, agents can easily find that person and move him/her into a detention center.

This last Friday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions had announced the government will take action by taking away federal funding to a sanctuary city if it fails to comply with immigration laws. What happens next is anyone’s guess.

If you have a loved one in ICE detention and in need of an immigration bond, let us help. Contact a Houston immigration bondsman at Freedom Federal Bonding Agency today. Hablamos Espanol.

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