In an effort to crackdown on illegal immigration, Attorney General William Barr recently announced the Department of Justice was taking legal action against local and state governments in sanctuary cities across the country. Lawsuits against certain states have already been announced and more are likely to follow. The move is designed to compel jurisdictions to comply with various federal immigration policies, including detainer orders for potentially undocumented immigrants in their communities.
What are Sanctuary Cities?
Sanctuary cities can be any jurisdiction that does not fully cooperate with federal immigration directives. As the President and his administration see it, any jurisdiction that prevents local police and sheriffs from communicating with federal immigration officials about potentially undocumented individuals is violating the law.
In certain sanctuary cities, their jails are prohibited from asking the government about an inmate’s immigration status. Also, many sanctuary city jails do not cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) detainer orders to notify the government when a detainee is released so they can be taken into custody or deported. Philadelphia is one of more than 300 immigration sanctuary cities throughout the country.
Are Sanctuary Cities Unconstitutional?
Barr vowed to implement a significant escalation against jurisdictions for unconstitutionally interfering with federal immigration policies. He said that enforcing immigration is an essential government function that cannot be done if city and state governments impede the process.
Despite this new effort to disempower sanctuary cities, Barr stressed the lawsuits are intended to target cities and policies that allow criminal aliens to escape, not undocumented individuals who are living peacefully and productively in their communities.
Additional Efforts to Stop Sanctuary Cities
In addition to the lawsuits, ICE has begun issuing subpoenas for law enforcement to gain information on arrested, undocumented individuals who are wanted for deportation. Barr claims ICE has full Department of Justice support and warns it is taking steps to review District Attorneys who pursue lesser sentences for criminal aliens to avoid immigration consequences, including removal.
While the debate over the constitutionality of sanctuary cities rages on, it is clear the current administration intends to use every legal means necessary to force them to comply with federal immigration enforcement efforts. How the lawsuits will impact cities and towns working to protect undocumented immigrants remains to be seen.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Protect the Rights of Clients in Sanctuary Cities Across the Country
While Philadelphia has been called one of the most determined sanctuary cities, the future of countless foreign-born individuals remains uncertain. Philadelphia immigration lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. are determined to protect the rights of every client, regardless of status. We handle your immigration matter with discretion and compassion to help you achieve the best outcome possible. To learn more about our services, call 215-925-4435 or contact us online to schedule a confidential consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients across the state of Pennsylvania and throughout the nation.