By Danielle Lapierre
The city of Bridgeport is currently considering adopting sanctuary city status in a new campaign to protect illegal immigrants.
As reported by The Hartford Courant, this campaign began when a Fairfield resident, Ann McCarthy protested at a Bridgeport rally. McCarthy works at a family resource center in Bridgeport and has seen the stress undocumented families go through.
Aspen Law is a leading publisher that teaches the fundamentals and lessons about law and society. According to Aspen Law, a sanctuary city is defined as a city that attempts to shield and shelter illegal immigrants. They do this by not allowing police to enforce immigration policy or making immigration enforcement a non-priority.
“We are seeing first-hand the crippling anxiety endured by our clients around heightened fears of deportation,” said McCarthy to the CT Post.
Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim takes on a democratic stance on illegal immigration and believes in protecting illegal immigrants.
The Courant confirms that Ganim has taken a lighter and more optimistic approach to the Donald Trump presidency than other Democrats.
After Donald Trump took office, he passed an executive order that was meant to block federal funding for sanctuary cities.
The Washington Post states that some of the largest sanctuary cities in the United States include San Francisco, Miami and Los Angeles.
Typically in order for an undocumented immigrant to be deported, they would have to be arrested or questioned on an infraction that is irrelevant to their citizenship status. Once they are booked and fingerprinted, their prints are sent to the FBI, which then shares this information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The Washington Post states once the organization knows there is an undocumented immigrant involved, ICE will submit a detainer request in order to begin deportation proceedings.
However, responding to these requests is voluntary by the governments and local police forces to enforce these policies. So, in sanctuary cities, responding to these requests is not a priority.
In Donald Trump’s new executive order, it would give ICE more power and would allow ICE to begin deportation earlier, even before a trial or any other criminal proceedings conclude, as reported by The Washington Post.
“Personally, I don’t like the idea of Bridgeport turning into a sanctuary city due to the fact that it will attract large numbers of illegal immigrants to Bridgeport which will take away from jobs in the area. Especially since GE just moved to Boston and that hurts the surrounding economy,” said junior Ryan Hoover.
Despite there being concerns about the economy and high crime rates regarding sanctuary cities, Tom Wong, a political science professor at University of California – San Diego did an analysis of FBI crime data and discovered that “sanctuary” areas actually have lower rates of crime, including homicide, than areas that are not designated sanctuary areas.
“You have illegal immigrants already in the area and a lot of them have not done anything wrong and have been better citizens than registered United States citizens,” said Hoover.
However, some students’ concerns with Bridgeport becoming a sanctuary city stem from the poverty level in Bridgeport, and how the protection of illegal immigrants could affect that level and the access to help for legal
citizens who are in poverty.
“If Bridgeport were to become a sanctuary city, I feel like it would be bad for the citizens who are already in poverty in Bridgeport, especially since illegal immigrants end up in poverty due to the lack of quality jobs,” said sophomore Chelsea Sedlar.
According to the Connecticut Post, the poverty level for Bridgeport children rose significantly in a span of one year from 2010-2011. The percentage of Bridgeport children living below the poverty line rose from 31 percent to 40 percent from 2010-2011.
Although the poverty line varies depending on the amount of children in a family, to live below the poverty line for a family of three is an annual income of $19,000.
“If there could be restrictions on how many people can register in the sanctuary city, then I would be open to it because it could be a way for these undocumented immigrants to pay taxes and get benefits that they don’t currently have while living in Bridgeport,” said Hoover.