Federal government tension with sanctuary cities intensifies

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The standoff between so-called “sanctuary cities” and the federal government crystalized for Queens residents recently, when rumors spread that Immigrations and Customs Enforcement visited PS 58 in Maspeth, allegedly to check on the immigration status of a fourth- grader there before being turned away by school security.

City and local officials rallied to defend the school’s decision, affirming their opposition to ICE operating in the city. Subsequent reports have disputed whether or not the individual asking about the student’s status was affiliated with ICE, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or some other agency. Mayor Bill de Blasio later criticized the Department of Homeland Security for not reaching out for information, which he says the city was willing to provide.

However, the confusion and ambiguity over ICE operations is emblematic of problems facing large cities across the country.

Rumors of ICE agents operating in places such as Jackson Heights have rattled New York’s estimated half million undocumented immigrants. While social services and medical providers report fewer levels of undocumented persons seeking services, law enforcement is also concerned that crimes against the undocumented will go unreported.

In response to these concerns, the city of Los Angeles called on ICE to stop identifying themselves as “police.” The federal government declined, noting that the word police was universally recognizable and therefore necessary to operations.

Sanctuary cities, at varying levels, determine to what degree they cooperate with federal mandates on immigration. At the core of this power struggle is the federal government’s resolve to unilaterally pursue the broad application of immigration enforcement.

According to the Washington Post, detentions have surged under the Trump administration, with the arrest of 41,318 immigrants, roughly 400 a day. It’s worth noting, however, that the ramp up of immigration enforcement is in fact reflective of a trend that began during the Obama administration.

The previous administra­tion’s officials alleged that only “criminal aliens” were being targeted for deportation, though the definition of a criminal record often included minor civil offenses. An estimated three-quarters of detentions this year are believed to be immigrants with criminal records or gang affiliation.

Unauthorized crossings at the U.S. southern border with Mexico have dropped to levels not seen since the late ’80s. Overstayed visas are now the most common reason why a person is undocumented. Still, immigration played prominently during the 2016 election, and that has brought enforcement actions, particularly against parents, activists, or childhood arrivals to national prominence.

The mass deportation agenda occurs concurrently with the administra­tion’s initiatives to implement a Muslim ban, end temporary protected status for asylum and refugee seekers from Central America and Haiti, and speed up deportation proceedings. Large cities, such as New York, have responded with increases in legal aid for immigrants enduring deportation proceedings, as well as affirming protections from having immigrants disclose an undocumented status when interacting with city agencies or law enforcement. Protections such as the DREAM Act appear in place, with the federal government giving no indication of removing those protections.

For immigration advocates, the large increase in the deportation of non-criminals is alarming. The deportations represent many long-term residents who have thus far not been offered the possibility of legalizing their status, as was the case in previous decades.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has made sanctuary cities its primary target, aiming to cut federal funding, nominally for counter-terrorism efforts for cities that do not assist deportation efforts. Citing concerns over funding, Florida’s Miami-Dade County was the first to rescind sanctuary status.

Currently, the executive order to withhold federal funding was blocked in federal court, with U.S. District Court Judge William H. Orrick noting that only Congress has the constitutional right to apply such conditions to funding. The decision drew a sharp rebuke from the president on social media.

Posted 12:00 am, June 13, 2017
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Reader feedback

jimmytheblonde from Queens says:
Seems as though the Prashad character---a habitual false-news generator---once again tries to feed lies and convoluted truths to the gullible from sippy cups. Fact is---Mayor de Blasio himself organized the visit and which was faaaar from any policing that is never done by the feds in schools. Legal US immigrants have nothing to fear while illegal border-jumpers. As non-essential as Prashad's reputation is he's made it absolutely non-existent with his false stories meant to inflame and gain readership for his lowly attention-seeking self. wassa matta, Prashad---can't be a man on your own steam?
June 13, 2017, 5:12 am
Deport from Queens says:
Who cares? If you're illegal then you need to be deported! You CHOSE to break the law and put yourselves in that position. All they do is send money back to motherland while getting welfare and Medicaid here. They are nothing but taxpayer leeches. In 40 years, social security will be broke and all the money us taxpayers put into the system all these years will get ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! And why do you think this is? Because the government takes our social security funds to put more Money into welfare systems to support the lazy, drug addicts and ILLEGAL criminals mostly. I Wonder how many illegal criminal gang members are receiving welfare in this country.? Bet anyone all of those ms-13 gang members get welfare left and right. Not to mention all the money we are paying to keep these illegal criminals in our jail systems all because their own countries dont want to sign the papers to take them back. It was proven that it cost taxpayers $50k/year just to keep one criminal in jail and our jails are FLOODED with illegal criminals who don't belong here.
June 13, 2017, 5:40 am
Deport from Queens says:
$50k/year PER CRIMINAL, still imagining why this country is still in debt?! Get a clue!
June 13, 2017, 5:43 am
no gray area from Queens says:
Hey Calvin, this issue is cut and dried, very simple to understand. The states and their cities have NO legal standing to defy Federal immigration laws. Stop inciting lawlessness, please.
June 13, 2017, 10:29 am
Johnny from Queens says:
Why should I care about anyone who is here illegally?
June 13, 2017, 8:41 pm
Tim from Astoria says:
You should care about them because they are people, Johnny. Two third of undocumented immigrants have lived in the US for 10 years or more. They're community members, not aliens.

Undocumented immigrants aren't eligible for SNAP, TANF, or Medicaid, jimmytheblonde. They do receive Emergency Medicaid, which allows undocumented women to give birth safely. Emergency Medicaid makes up less than 1% of Medicaid's budget. We can afford to not force women to give birth on the street. We already let 700-900 women die, and 65,000 nearly die, from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes annually — the worst record in the developed world. America Last!

Deport, a big reason why our economy hasn't struggled as much as many major economies since the Recession is that immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, have helped to keep our population young. Immigrants account entirely for the increase in the number of annual US births since 1970. If you want a working economy in a country that still afford to pay Social Security checks in a couple of decades, you should be welcoming more immigrants, helping to provide undocumented immigrants with a path to citizenship, and hoping they all have a lot of babies, because we're all going to need them. Whether people are here legally or illegally reflects more on our outdated immigrant laws and our inefficient bureaucracy than it does on them.
June 14, 2017, 1:44 pm
sorry tim is wrong from queens says:
A criminal is just that whether he just broke into this country or has been here 10 or 20 years. You need to go back to school to learn the difference between right and wrong. Illegal is wrong and legal is right. It is as simple as that. If you want to support those who broke in, why not fly back with them to their home countries with your bank account. Seems like a plan. Do not lecture me on your messed up sick values.
June 14, 2017, 3:35 pm
Tim from Astoria says:
Hi sorry tim is wrong, I'm sorry that you're so small-minded that you believe it is morally right for the government to tear families apart and weaken our economy to the detriment of all while it is wrong for the government to provide people who want to be the engine of our economy, and whose children are the key to our future, with a path to citizenship and the basic rights they need to participate fully to our society. I believe spending billions of dollars on ripping parents from their children is wrong while creating a path to citizenship for good people who have been our neighborhoods and contributed to our communities for years, and whose children are why our economy is strong, is right. And I would wager I've spent a lot more time in schools than you have.
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June 15, 2017, 9:50 pm

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