by Meaghan Curley
Arguments against sanctuary cities and their policies to help undocumented immigrants from the leering threat of overzealous ICE agents and their obsequious county jailers are followed:
“Well, if the illegals didn’t break the law then they have nurthin’ to fear”
“This is America: Either follow the law or kick rocks somewhere else with less freedom”
“If an illegal immigrant, or any non-citizen, commits a crime, than that is basis enough for removal/ deportation”.
The sentiment in America used to be that only the hard-working, the desperate, those yearning to breathe-freely deserved to be in America. Everyone else, the petulant, the drug-addicted, the lazy kings and queens of welfare (you know, like the millions and millions of generational-born Americans) can ship off.
However, under new Republican administration, anti-family and anti-immigrant policies of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could begin the deportation process sooner. Before criminal proceedings are even complete! Innocent before proven guilty need not apply in an era of anti-refugee hysteria.
In the past, a non-citizen who was arrested would get booked. Their fingerprints would be sent to the FBI and if the FBI reported back that this person was an undocumented immigrant, then the county jailer would submit a detainer request. Normally this would take 48 hours, so it would be up to the jailer to hold the non-citizen.
You ask a non-citizen to “follow the laws of the land”. Yet a jailer can violate the Fourth amendment, specifically the principle that a person cannot be detained without a warrant, because the person they are trying to go after isn’t a real American. So who cares? ‘Muricans expect immigrants, non-citizens, migrants, and undocumented persons to act accordingly, yet also expect them to live under constant discrimination, to accept the fact that one day they could be ripped from their homes and their communities because some county jailer decided to voluntarily break the law, as a favor to the new ‘Round-‘Em-Up-And-Kick-‘Em-Out’ President and his Political Goons.
Sanctuary cities, the places in America that choose to not side with the anti-immigration hysteria, who choose to aggressively fight against traumatizing people, families and communities, have a much simpler argument: That all people, regardless of citizenship-status, deserve sanctuary.
Read below is a press release statement from the Utica branch of the Industrial Workers of the World which concisely ratifies what the message of advocates of sanctuary city movements, both locally and across the country, means:
“Rather than asking for permission or pushing uncaring politicians to provide a veneer of sanctuary from above, IWW union members and immigrant justice activists are actively building and providing that sanctuary from below, at the grassroots. We intend to stand up and resist efforts by the Trump administration and federal and local agencies and law enforcement to apprehend undocumented immigrants and break up families. Already, we have offered assistance and support to two families which have been terrorized for years by disastrous anti-immigrant and anti-family policies designed only to cause suffering. One local immigrant who has several children and a wife, all of whom are US citizens, is facing imminent deportation and in the past was sent to a prison for immigrants, not for committing any crime, but because he had the wrong paperwork to be in the US. This is just one local story among countless others where family members have been detained, sent to an immigrant prison, or deported.
The IWW was established on principles of inclusivity of all immigrant workers and provided a sanctuary at a time for immigrants during a period of heightened anti-immigrant hysteria, exclusion and violence in US history. We continue that tradition of fighting back against this oppression with solidarity today which is why we are joining the national strike on May Day, a ‘day without immigrants’, to push for immigrant and worker justice. We want to let local refugees, immigrants and Muslims know that they live in a loving community that has at least one union and countless other people willing to go on the line with them to provide real sanctuary.”
Sanctuary city bylaws won’t insure that non-citizens who break non-citizenship based laws aren’t living in America on a loophole. They merely insure that the rights of those who are in the presence of authority aren’t being arbitrarily discriminated against or vulnerable against exclusionary acts of injustice. Sanctuary city advocates aren’t waiting around either for other people to decide. Like Harriet Tubman and other real Americans before them, they aren’t waiting for laws to side with them. They aren’t asking for permission or forgiveness. Like Quasimodo, they’re simply screaming ‘sanctuary!’
Meaghan Curley was born in Utica, graduated from Proctor High School and MVCC, and wants to die in Utica. She’s a published writer who’s work can be found in anthologies. Meaghan recently published a novel titled “Girl: Repurposed” but ain’t about to brag. She is also a member of the Industrial Workers of the World.