Letter: What Sanctuary Cities Really Are

By on October 27, 2018

Dear Editor,

In response to Mary Bovich’s 10/27 letter regarding sanctuary cities, I believe a clarification is in order. While undocumented immigrants are a standard Republican bogeyman, many people who oppose them have no clear understanding of what sanctuary cities actually are.

What they AREN’T, are cities that protect criminals from prosecution, which is the understanding of many uninformed people. While the definition of sanctuary cities varies slightly from state to state, what it basically means is that local law enforcement is under no obligation to report undocumented immigrants it comes in contact with to ICE. It does NOT mean they CAN’T report them, just that they don’t have to. The reason this is important, and why many in local law enforcement actually support sanctuary cites, is that gaining the trust of immigrant communities is an important investigative tool for them, especially in a culturally diverse state like New Jersey. To put it simply, if an undocumented immigrant witnesses a crime or has information that would be valuable to an investigation, they are unlikely to come forward if they fear being deported.

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Immigrant communities have always been an important source of information for local police departments, and losing their trust would make solving crimes exponentially more difficult for them. Also, putting the extra burden on local law enforcement of doing ICE’s job as well as their own puts an unnecessary strain on local police departments’ often limited resources. Again, this does NOT mean illegal immigrants would be protected if ICE agents came for them or if they committed a crime. That’s a common misconception and one that is often used as a partisan scare tactic.

Finally, just to be clear, Mikie Sherrill supports common sense, humane, immigration reform, and has said so publicly on many occasions. Jay Webber’s attacks on her regarding that issue are completely unfounded.

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Mark Fortgang

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