Resource: 10 'Safe City' Tools for 'Sanctuary Cities'

Here's how sanctuary-minded cities can implement Safe City policies and programs that enable public agencies to not ask residents about immigration status.

A recent report by Demos, a public policy organization with offices in New York, Boston and Washington, D.C., with LatinoJustice PRLDEF has outlined the reasons why cities like Los Angeles, New York and Seattle have said they won't provide immigration status information to the Federal government. Becoming an official Sanctuary City is not the only way to protect immigrant populations, there are Safe City options for local governments.

According to the authors, one Federal law expressly pre-empts state or local immigration policies. The provision 8 U.S.C. § 1373 (“Section 1373”),40 prohibits federal, state or local government authorities from prohibiting any state or local government entity or official from sending or receiving information about any person’s immigration status.

However, the law does not require state or local government entities or officials to inquire into immigration status or provide the same information," according to the report.

The authors go on to say that key elements of local Sanctuary City policies under attack are not likely pre-empted by this federal law, and they offer insights and information on how to establish and implement Safe City policies and programs that empower cities to not inquire about immigration status.

The 10 types of Safe City protections local governments have begun implementing are:

1. Policies affirming constitutional protections against racial profiling and equal protection of all persons, and demonstrating the jurisdiction’s commitment to aggressively prosecuting hate crimes, such as Bloomfield, Conn.

2. Policies prohibiting immigration enforcement in public schools, where constitutional equal protection guarantees safeguard undocumented students, such as Chicago.

3. Policies prohibiting immigration enforcement in other sensitive locations, such as churches and hospitals.

4. Inclusive programs that provide benefits to undocumented immigrants and their families, such as provisions that expand access to identification cards or health care; extend professional licenses to immigrants; and/or strengthen workers’ rights in areas that predominantly affect low-wage immigrant workers (including farmworkers’ and domestic workers’ rights).

5. Amending or applying state criminal laws to reduce or eliminate the immigration consequences that might result from a criminal conviction, pardoning past felony convictions, or other applicable criminal justice reforms (including offering community policing training, or passing laws restricting officers’ ability to arrest individuals for misdemeanors or for certain immigration offenses).

6. Policies or practices of declining to honor federal civil immigration detainers, which are requests issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that local law enforcement continue to detain individuals already in custody.

7. Policies limiting use of community resources for enforcement of federal immigration law (or the civil provisions thereof).

8. Policies restricting inquiries into or investigations about immigration status.

9. Policies shielding information about immigration status from federal authorities. To avoid conflict with federal laws permitting individual state and local government employees to exchange immigration information with federal authorities, some jurisdictions have enacted policies restricting access to information about immigration status.

10. Policies providing public funds for legal services for undocumented immigrants, including those facing deportation, such as Los Angeles.

Download the full report on tools cities can use to provide safety or sanctuary to immigrant populations.

Watch a video conversation with the report authors:

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