Op-Ed: Pushing back against anti-immigrant legislation on ‘sanctuary cities’

Lindsay Schubiner • Oct 20, 2015

Tuesday, the Senate blocked an anti-immigrant bill targeting so-called sanctuary jurisdictions. The bill failed in a 54-45 procedural vote. It needed 60 votes to advance.

The bill explicitly targeted cities and counties that limited local law enforcement collaboration with federal immigration enforcement. The Center for New Community joined activists across the country who reject this anti-immigrant posturing that threatens to divide communities, undermine trust of police and separate families through deportation.

In our op-ed in The Hill, co-authored with Michael Shank, we point out how anti-immigrant laws like Vitter’s are part of a bigger agenda:

“While this legislation in Congress and North Carolina is a major setback for immigrant rights, it does not come out of the blue. It is the result of a long-standing strategy promoted by a powerful anti-immigrant lobby. Anti-immigrant leaders have learned how to take advantage of a tragic, local event and use it to shift the focus of the debate to national policies.”

We continue:

“Anti-immigrant activists have exploited Steinle’s tragic death to push anti-immigrant policies that do nothing to address public safety or prevent gun violence. Most concerning, their work threatens to undo years of immigrant rights work, trust built between local law enforcement and immigrant communities, and constitutional rights established in law enforcement practices.

“But their presence is no surprise.  The anti-immigrant movement in this country is both well funded and well organized. Shortly after Steinle’s death, for example, the “think tank” of the anti-immigrant movement, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), ramped up their attacks on so-called sanctuary cities.”

The New York Times also posted a hard-hitting editorial excoriating Sen. Vitter’s bill and similar legislation. Yet the anti-immigrant movement continues to mobilize in support of these wrongheaded policies, directing calls and emails to Senators to sway their votes.

“These laws are a false fix for a concocted problem. They are based on the lie, now infecting the Republican presidential campaign, that all unauthorized immigrants are dangerous criminals who must be subdued by extraordinary means.

“The laws are a class-action slander against an immigrant population that has been scapegoated for the crimes of a few, and left stranded by the failure of legislative reform that would open a path for them to live fully within the law. And because crackdowns on sanctuary cities seek to thwart sound law-enforcement policies and the integration of immigrants, they are an invitation to more crime and mayhem, not less.”

Lindsay Schubiner is a Senior Program Manager at the Center for New Community.

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