“What The Hell Are Sanctuary Cities?” — Sam Bee Breaks It Down

It would not be stretch to say that in all likelihood, President Trump hates the concept of sanctuary cities. Throughout his campaign, he called these cities "a Trojan horse." He has falsely said that undocumented immigrants who live in such places kill "thousands of Americans." And he has vowed to end federal funding (to the maximum extent possible) to any local governments that adopt this policy. But...what the hell is a sanctuary city anyway? Our favorite feminist comedian Samantha Bee broke down the concept of sanctuary cities during last night's episode of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. Read on for the good, the bad, and the straight up Fox News lies.

How do sanctuary cities work?

Basically, these are cities and counties across the U.S. where the local government doesn't cooperate with federal authorities in the detention of undocumented immigrants. Meaning? An undocumented person won't be detained by local police just because they're in the country illegally. And if the authorities do come across someone who is undocumented, they won't hand them over to federal authorities such as the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) without reasonable cause. Some of these sanctuary jurisdictions include big cities such as New York (where, Bee pointed out, former mayor Rudy Giuliani used to defend undocumented people), San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston. But there are also smaller cities and counties that abide by this policy, such as New Haven, CT, Arlington, VA, and Benton County, IA. But as Bee notes, "Sanctuary cities don't just hand get-out-of-jail free cards to every violent felon with an accent." NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio explained to MSNBC that the city does cooperate with federal authorities when undocumented immigrants commit violent crimes. However, he said that "if someone has a small amount of marijuana, or someone ran through a stop sign, and that's why they might be deported and have a family torn apart, or [have] a breadwinner taken away from their children, we're not going to do that."

Are these places safe?

"For the attentive Fox News viewer, sanctuary cities are dystopian hell pits of lawlessness, where hoards of non-English-speaking illegal immigrants roam the streets at night, eating stolen tacos and murdering as many people as they want with no consequences whatsoever, because crime-loving liberals swoop in to save them from punishment," Bee said. She's not exaggerating. People in the network have called sanctuary cities "anarchy," "dangerous," "deadly," and "complete chaos." The only problem is, that's not actually true. As Bee points out, these jurisdictions have slightly lower crime rates than non-sanctuary counties. "There are, on average, 35.5 fewer crimes committed per 10,000 people in sanctuary counties compared to non-sanctuary counties," reads a report by the Center for American Progress, a progressive public policy research and advocacy organization.

It continues, "Altogether, the data suggest that when local law enforcement focuses on keeping communities safe, rather than becoming entangled in federal immigration enforcement efforts, communities are safer and community members stay more engaged in the local economy."

How will Trump's executive order affect these sanctuary jurisdictions?

Trump's executive order says that the local governments which refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities will lose federal grants. He also ordered that a list of crimes committed by undocumented people must be compiled every week. This order is not only legally questionable, but the federal funding thing is kind of a dumb plan too. Why? Well some of the big cities that enact sanctuary policies generate about 85% of U.S. GDP and great share of federal tax revenue. Bee put it more simply: "Threatening to withhold money from sanctuary cities makes as much sense as Macaulay Culkin's parents threatening to dock his allowance." Mayors all over the country have stood up to Trump and said they will continue to be compassionate towards the undocumented community, and have promised to continue to shield them. However, Bee also had a reality check for many people: Sanctuary cities are just a temporary fix to a deeper problem. "Look, we need comprehensive immigration reform," she said. "Some of this country's 1,300 gun deaths a year are caused by undocumented immigrants, and that is a real problem. But it won't be solved by deporting someone's mom for littering." And that's where Boston Mayor Marty Walsh reminds us what's at stake for undocumented families everywhere. During a press conference, Walsh read out a letter from a 7-year-old saying that he was afraid he would be separated from his mom, and thanking the mayor for protecting his city "from the bad man," and making him feel safe. Walsh said that the letter is, "why I'll stand here with my colleagues any day to protect the people that can't protect themselves." In the end, that's the purpose of sanctuary cities.
Editor's note: Samantha Bee took over our morning news app, "This AM." Check out what stories she shared today by downloading the app here.

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