Sanctuary Cities in Southwestern U.S.

Headlines like “migrant babies being dropped over the border wall” … “caravan migrants breaching the US border” … and even this one… “Number of criminals in migrant caravan, does it matter?” have been racing across the screens of millions of American’s TV, news, internet feed, etc. Trump has been calling for an immigration reform since his first days in office, even while campaigning he was advocating as such. I feel that he willfully called into action the uprising of thousands of migrants to come cross our border by taunting them that he was going to build his great wall to keep undocumented people from ruining our great country and economy.

American people have a varied viewpoint of how immigration affects people in this country.

Public opinion can shift with the wind from what it seems. President Trump has raised many eyebrows with his comments about what should be done with this migrant caravan and our border security. December 1st had interesting results for Trump and his want for a border wall with Mexico.

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According to Niv Elis, a reporter for, “Trump told Republican appropriators …that the figure (1.6$ billion allocated within the White House budget, a measure proposed) was not high enough, and demanded $5 billion to fund the wall.” The fact that disagreements over a border wall could call for a governmental shutdown is insane. In this article, Elis comments that “this is something people are facing for a second time with president Donald Trump; the first time was in January with DACA “dreamers”, immigrants that came to this country illegally as children, and again in February due to spending disagreements.

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” I would not be surprised to have shutdowns happen regularly with Trump in office.

Immigration reform has been in the media for some years now. As the population grows increasingly in size yearly, providing adequate resources for all has proven tough with undocumented people presiding in many border towns. These places have been dubbed “sanctuary cities” and have been around for way longer than the Trump administration. The West Coast southwestern states contain more counties with these sanctuary cities than the rest of the U.S, some of the states including Texas, New Mexico, California, and Nevada have several counties that operate as sanctuary cities for illegal immigrants.

Immigration is a major part of American Politics, and has been a controversial topic throughout history. It is evident that sanctuary cities have been on the rise in the United States, with news channels and people publishing articles online every other day. Which leaves many people questioning the validity and safety of these new sanctuaries for illegal immigrants and/or the residing occupants. Our nation was founded on immigrants, so why so much fuss over these places of safe haven? Some may question whether the cities are truly places of safe haven for everyone, especially the American citizens who already populate these counties. I would like to help decipher what a sanctuary city is, who is effected by these cities, and where those sanctuaries are located in the United States.

What is a Sanctuary City? A sanctuary city is a place that protects illegal immigrants from deportation. In sanctuary cities, authorities do not detain undocumented people for an extended length of time. Once that person is cleared of whatever crime they were convicted of they are released. Non-sanctuary cities must detain people until U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can come to deport that individual. Many cities have adopted some form of immigration policies; but with federalism, each state has their own set of laws and regulations. The majority of the border towns have become sanctuary to these people, and this influx of people has had a major impact for these places.

Undocumented immigrants are human beings, and deserve the same sense of security as other people. According to Christine Barbour and Gerald Wright, “Even people without legal permanent resident status have rights and responsibilities in the United States.” (23) Although these people do not have the right to vote, they still have the same responsibilities to follow the laws and regulations where they are residing. Even without documentation of citizenship the U.S Constitution grants them the same fair treatment from the courts that citizens have such as due process of the law, habeas corpus, and provided equal protections of the law. (U.S. Constitution)

The safety of people within these sanctuary cities has been questioned, with murders and gang violence portrayed in news. The people within some of these towns have been upset with border security, because their children are getting recruited for gangs or worse. Although illegal immigration is not to blame exactly, these undocumented people seem to make more violence in the streets. According to the fact sheets for the white house,

“Criminal aliens arrested by ICE ERO in FY 2017 were responsible for: more than 76,000 dangerous drug offenses, more than 48,000 assault offenses, more than 11,000 weapon offenses, more than 5,000 sexual assault offenses, more than 2,000 kidnapping offenses, and more than 1,800 homicide offenses.”

These results were not specific to location; yet these are substantial for the United States. Parents don’t want to be afraid to send their child off into the world with knowledge of known gang violence, drugs, prostitution, murder, etc. right on their doorsteps. California is a place of beauty, despite the known drug cartels and gang violence. Personally, I am afraid to go to certain parts of town in LA alone. I feel that I could be caught in the wrong place at the wrong time; I could get shot, raped, or even robbed. Not to mention wearing the wrong colors in the wrong neighborhood, or simply walking down the wrong street. The cartel violence over the years has become increasingly alarming for most residents residing in sanctuary cities.

Sanctuary cities have also been said to be safe, because these immigrants are not afraid to report crimes. Police have been reluctant to pick up immigrants for deportation by ICE, because this could cause people to not trust in the local law enforcement and not report crimes being committed. This could be problematic for some places because the higher crime rate makes more need for police presence. The police are afraid that they will not receive funding if they do not follow the policies being put out by their local government. Trump has found out that he can only do so much to stop these states from not following the Federal guidelines with immigration policy.

Immigration policies and the public opinion on sanctuary cities have been changing with time, including how federalism is involved. Federalism in sanctuary cities is something that plays a huge role in that question. According to Barbour and Wright, “Congress is the branch responsible for exercising immigration matters” (pg. 23). Federalism involves the separation of power between the federal, state, and local governments. This separation of power creates its own set of problems. Federal policies for immigration are different than that of each state, and each state has different counties, that separate up into smaller local parts. Each has to follow the regulations that that government has put into action. Trump has battled for control over whether he can pull federal funding to these states because of their involvement in sanctuary cities. Supreme Court Judges have decided more than once in favor of the sanctuary cities. According to Shibani Mahtani with WallStreetJournal.Com, “Judge rules federal funding for policing programs can’t be withheld for lack of cooperation with immigration enforcement (ICE).” Trump did not seem happy that he could not use his executive power to rain tyranny over these states.

Not all immigrants are here illegally, some obtain the proper work visas for legal temporary residence. Yet, most are people coming to the U.S illegally for the promise of a better life for themselves and their families, or for asylum from violence in their home countries. Illegal immigrants, or undocumented people decide to not go through the correct channels of legal immigration for one reason or another. (Barbour, Wright, 22-23) The process for which people can become citizens in the United States is called naturalization. This process takes several years for most to navigate and become a naturalized citizen. (USCIS) These citizens are considered real citizens and once they have successfully completed the process, they then become permanent residents of the United States. They then can then obtain the same rights and privileges that a U.S. citizen has.

Undocumented people have a huge impact on the economy. When the census comes every 10 years it helps to decipher the needs of the community, based on the population. The resources that are allocated to these communities are spread more thinly because the illegal immigrants are more reluctant to come forward to be counted. Resources such as healthcare, and schooling for children can be some ways that immigrants impact the local community negatively. These services cost money, and the taxpayers are the ones who end up having to pay. Deficit in the budget is common with these sanctuary cities. These illegal immigrants then have babies in the U.S. and birthright citizenship opens up a whole other world of problems. Birthright citizenship refers to the 14th amendment’s citizenship clause in the Constitution, which states “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.” These babies become known by some as “anchor babies” because the parents are not legal but the child is a citizen. These children cause much controversy for the political world, because no one wants to separate families’ due to immigration status.

With the rise of illegal immigrants in my own town, Las Vegas, I feel that immigration reform should be addressed with a swiftness. I see more and more Mexicans on a daily basis. According to Michael Haverluck with NeNewsNow, “The state with the highest share of births to illegal immigrants is Nevada – at nearly one in six. Births to illegal immigrants account for one in seven births in California and Texas.” I believe that number to be true, as Hispanic people are a culture that is embedded deep in Nevada culture. The close proximity to the Mexican border and the fact that Las Vegas is a Democratic sanctuary city draws more people daily. I feel that if Trump or whomever becomes president in the next 10+ years doesn’t take care of the problem with immigration, the U.S will continue to suffer economically.

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Sanctuary Cities in Southwestern U.S.. (2021, Oct 11). Retrieved from

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