Sarah Saldana, the director for ICE, or Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, has spoken firmly about the agency’s position on immigration enforcement; according to Saldana, there will be no repercussions for sanctuary cities, nor enforcement of certain immigration laws, until comprehensive immigration reform is passed and Obama’s immigration action is enacted.
Understanding Sanctuary Cities
Sanctuary cities are those cities throughout the U.S. (and Canada) that provide shelter to immigrants, via the adoption of certain policies, who have entered the country illegally and are facing deportation. For example, San Francisco has passed legislation that prohibits police officers from asking questions about a person’s residency status. Some well-known sanctuary cities throughout the U.S. include Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Houston, Miami, Baltimore, Washington D.C., New York, and Chicago, amongst others.
Saldana Under Fire for Protecting Sanctuary Cities
On July 21, 2015, Saldana came under fire when she, as well as Leon Rodriguez, the director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, were repeatedly asked questions by congressional members regarding why no legal actions have been taken against sanctuary jurisdictions that, quoting Senator David Vitter (Republican – Louisiana), “refuse to turn over dangerous criminals.”
Saldana adamantly replied that once comprehensive immigration reform was passed by congress, ICE would address the legality of the policies in sanctuary cities.
Not the First Time Saldana Speaks Up
Saldana’s recent question-and-response session with Congress is not the first time the director of ICE has been clear about what she expects; in April of 2015, Saldana spoke openly in front of members of the House Judiciary Committee regarding consequences for ICE officers who fail to enforce the law (specifically, President Obama’s immigration priorities). To quote Saldana, she was clear that “not abiding by some other rule or policy” or not following a directive could result in a “range of punishment,” including termination.
Congress has threatened before to withhold funding from sanctuary cities that harbor undocumented immigrants, and on July 23, 2015, the House voted for—and passed—a piece of legislation that would do just that. Happily, the White House has stated that it will veto the legislation, as it threatens to undermine the current administration’s efforts and priorities.
Contact a Massachusetts Immigration Attorney Today
If you’re facing deportation or have questions about your immigration status, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney who’s on your side. At the Law Offices of Joshua P. Goldstein, P.C., our immigration attorneys want to help you. To learn more about our services and your rights an immigrant, call us today at 617-722-0005.