What’s the Issue with Sanctuary Cities?

Many controversies have surfaced during the scant amount of days in which Trump has been president of the United States. Municipalities

One of these has been the issue of sanctuary cities. Trump’s actions against immigrants has resonated throughout various cities in the United States including the Greater Boston area. This has posed as a great concern for the city of Malden whose immigrant population has reached as upwards of 30% with half of this percentage as students in public schools. Trump’s Executive Orders that target immigrants have potentially severe implications for Malden, Boston, and even the state of Massachusetts in its entirety. Areas that once provided immigrants with safety from potentially harmful immigration officers have now become targets for government crackdown and persecution.

President Trump speaking about new immigration policies. Photo from WikiMedia.

To offer context, a sanctuary city is simply a district that poses as a haven for undocumented immigrants throughout the United States such as local cities like Boston, Lawrence, and Somerville. These sanctuary cities can be significant for refugees who wish for safety on a state level especially when their lack of citizenship puts them in compromising situations. President Trump is enacting these laws under the guise of a push for public safety which surfaces the question of what makes undocumented immigrants inherently unsafe? It could merely be Trump’s heavily projected xenophobia, but when I ruminate over this question, I cannot help but think back to the very lesson I am learning in history class, which reflects the political climate that Trump is slowly creating in the United States. Trump’s Executive Order draws parallels from history which can be alarming considering how much America seeks to progress from its complex past.

Simultaneously, the question of whether or not Malden warrants the label of a sanctuary city can be asked as well. Although Malden is technically not a sanctuary city, mayor of Malden Gary Christenson told Wicked Local that Malden is “a community that's open and welcome to everyone regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation and status.” There may be a plethora of unspoken reasons to why Mayor Christenson would rather not declare Malden an official sanctuary city. First and foremost, if he did call it a sanctuary city, then Malden would be subject to Trump’s Executive Order that would cut funding directly from Malden. This could be detrimental to the city which supports thousands of immigrants and provides them with resources to better suit them to their lives.

Many citizens find the label of a sanctuary city important as it has the ability to give immigrants the sense of security that they may be seeking in a new or obscure area. Being an immigrant is not an easy experience. Some enter the country as refugees, for family, for education opportunities or to start their lives anew. In the process of immigrating, one can face dangerous journeys, familial separation, painstaking legal procedures, and general disapproval from society.

As a second generation Nigerian, I know secondhand that being an immigrant represents strength and sacrifice. Both of my parents left Nigeria when they were adults, but still young, solely for education. They didn’t leave the country out of fear of violence or war, lack or freedom of religion. They left to enrich their futures. They left family who loved them, places they knew inside and out, as well as secure careers all for a life in an unknown country. It is a scary experience, leaving a place one knows so well for a place swarming with newness and uncertainty. Conversely, I find it a unique sentiment, knowing that I will live the rest of my life feeling wholeheartedly supported by my parents who chose to safeguard their own educations, thus securing mine.

Map of major sanctuary cities in the United States. Photo from WikiMedia.

Support has sprung up all over social media for immigrants since Donald Trump was elected. Many resources have become more available to in regards to what to do if ever apprehended by law enforcement, particularly the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, a federal law agency which operates under the Department of Homeland Security responsible for border patrol and other forms of national security. There have been info graphics that offer advice to not comply with the the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and instead to fight back.

Protesters have also been supporting immigrants by voicing their opposition to Trump’s ban and wall. They by no means believe that immigrants pose as a detriment to our society and but that they enhance it instead. Many have pointed out Trump’s hypocrisy in making a ban on immigrants considering the fact that his own wife is an immigrant. In noting this simple fact, people have deemed this an issue not about safety, but merely about race. Our country has seen already hundreds of years of institutionalized racism that people are still working to fix. The people will by no means be compliant to the order Trump is trying to impose over our country, many of which is rooted in racism. As long as people have the opportunity to protest and fight Trump’s odious and petulant laws, they will. The public will not stand by and allow immigrants treated blatantly unfairly when many of the contribute greatly to the American economy.

Ultimately, the issue of sanctuary cities in the Greater Boston area extends beyond a label. Sanctuary cities have the potential to serve as buffer to harsh law enforcement and genuine injustice. The pinnacle of these are orders exactly like Trump’s which are detrimental more than just cities; but to immigrants who house the same dreams as the rest of the world.

Tobi Pitan

Tobi Pitan, Editor in Chief of the Website and Mobile Apps, is a senior and returning member of the Blue and Gold. Their main interests are film and technical theatre but their favorite subject is Philosophy. Their favorite film is The Place Beyond the Pines and their favorite theatrical production is Fun Home, which they hope to see in the near future. In their free time they work, read, write, and in the past have frequented clubs at MHS such as Veg Club, Social Justice Club and The Writer’s Den. They are also a Stage Manager in Play Production here at MHS. They joined this class because of their interest in writing and from there was able to discover and hone their passions for Copy-editing and Videography. They hope to attend Emerson College and major in Media Arts Production. Over the summer they attended a week-long program in New York City for Digital, Media, Journalism, and Film where they learned more about how to interview in metropolitan settings and design an online newspaper. They intend to apply the skills they learned about journalism in NYC to the class this year.

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