Sharp Divisions Emerge On Immigration Sanctuary Policies


Oakland calls itself a “sanctuary city,” one of dozens across the U.S. that direct local police or officials to stay out of immigration matters, says the Christian Science Monitor. Lt. Chris Mufarreh, who patrols a heavily Hispanic neighborhood, says “sanctuary” soothes fears among immigrants about coming forward when they are crime victims or witnesses. Steve Kemp, who is organizing a protest of the policy, the police are shirking their duty to uphold the law. Sharply divided views on sanctuary policies are emerging on the national stage. “If police are seen as immigration enforcers, members of immigrant communities will simply be afraid to talk to them,” says law Prof. David Harris of the University of Toledo in Ohio and author of “Good Cops,” a book on preventive policing. “When that kind of fear is rampant in the community, the predators know this right away.”

Oakland had been a sanctuary city in the 1980s, offering political asylum to certain refugees. Some cities like Oakland and San Francisco have reinvented the concept as a way to disassociate themselves from stepped-up federal raids. The term sanctuary may be a misnomer. “What’s going on now is not really a sanctuary movement. It’s a modern community-policing strategy,” says Lynn Tramonte of the National Immigration Forum, a Washington-based immigration advocacy group. “It’s not as though the police department policies protect foreign-born people from deportation.”


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