Here are the American cities where undocumented immigrants are safest from being deported
A wave of federal immigration raids took place across the country over the past week, with federal agents rounding up undocumented immigrants even in places that are considered to be "sanctuary cities."
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have arrested 680 people nationwide in the past week, many of them in sanctuary cities like New York and Los Angeles.
Ever since President Donald Trump signed an executive order cracking down on sanctuary cities, the term has been applied to any number of jurisdictions that have taken some action to protect the undocumented from deportation. Because immigration law is set and enforced by the federal government, local governments can make decisions about whether to cooperate with the feds in tracking and handing over undocumented immigrant to federal authorities.
Though the Trump administration has vowed to focus only on undocumented people who are "criminals," recent cases suggest that the administration's definition of "criminal" is broad enough to include anyone who comes in contact with law enforcement — even if they have no criminal record.
The Immigrant Legal Resource Center, a nonprofit group working on behalf of immigrants in the U.S., has identified seven policies that local governments can implement in order to protect the undocumented. The organization rates cities and counties based on whether they have adopted these measures, offering a metric for those who want to know what their local government is doing to protect people who are undocumented.
The policies ILRC identified deal with how — and whether — local law enforcement interacts with ICE when an undocumented person enters police custody. Does local law enforcement comply with ICE requests to hold a person after their release so ICE can take them into custody? Do they alert ICE when those people are released from custody? Do they have a contract with ICE to hold people during their deportation proceedings? Do they allow ICE access to local jails for their interrogations?
ILRC also examines how local law enforcement interacts with undocumented people in public. Are officers and other officials prohibited from asking questions about a person's legal status or place of birth? Does that police department participate in the 287(g) "Secure Communities" program, which deputizes local law enforcement to enforce immigration laws — which was shuttered under the Obama administration but is likely to return under Trump. Their final criterion examines whether or not that government has placed general prohibition on using local resources to assist ICE.
ILRC's interactive map gives a window into which counties have or haven't taken what steps to protect people who are undocumented. Data compiled by the organization identified 84 counties that have taken at least five steps to prevent deportations.
Of those, five places stand out in the top top tier — local jurisdictions that meet at least six of the seven criteria established by ILRC. In other words, these are the places that have done the most to protect people who are undocumented from deportation.
Of the 2,557 counties examined by ILRC, San Francisco County is one of only two places that meets all seven policy criteria for protecting people who are undocumented.
In addition to a general prohibition on using official resources to help federal officials enforce immigration laws, they rejected programs that deputize law enforcement to enforce immigration laws, limit immigration-based detention, do not allow ICE interrogations of arrestees, do not alert ICE when someone who is undocumented is released from police custody and prohibit inquiries about nation of origin or immigration status.
San Francisco has also taken additional steps to ensure quality of life for people who are undocumented, such as issuing their own form of municipal ID for government services.
San Francisco was the first city to file a lawsuit against Trump's executive order.
Cook County (county seat Chicago), like San Francisco County, also meets all seven criteria for protecting undocumented people. Shortly after Donald Trump won the 2016 election, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel declared, "Chicago has in the past been a sanctuary city... It always will be a sanctuary city."
The five counties that collectively make up New York City have taken all but one of the policy steps identified by ILRC. They issue their own municipal IDs, decline to participate in ICE programs and limit immigration-based detentions, but the city does not have a general prohibition on using resources to assist immigration enforcement.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has called Trump's executive order "vague" and "contradictory" and said that if Trump attempts to withdraw funding from the city under the order, "we will go to court immediately for an injunction to stop it."
Taos County, New Mexico, is one of only two non-metropolitan areas in the country that meet at least six of ILRC's criteria. It has a population of around 32,000 people. Taos county has taken most of the seven steps toward protecting people who are undocumented but do not have a policy against notifying ICE when a person who is undocumented leaves police custody.
San Miguel County, New Mexico, with a population of less than 30 thousand people, is the smallest jurisdiction (in terms of population) to have taken at least six of ILRC's steps to prevent facilitating ICE deportations. Rock G. Ulibarri, the San Miguel County commissioner told Mic that San Miguel County does not have an official sanctuary policy but has taken steps where possible to provide relief. He also said that he is working in conjunction with the Mayor of Santa Fe, New Mexico to update the sanctuary policies for the city of Las Vegas, New Mexico — the county seat of San Miguel. Like Taos County, they have taken all of the steps to protect the undocumented except for prohibiting ICE notifications.
There are 75 counties across the United States that have taken at least five steps to prevent ICE deportations.
In addition to San Francisco County, 32 of California's 58 counties have met at least five of the criteria. All of those counties have taken every step except for prohibiting questions about legal status/country of origin, and enacting a general prohibition on ICE assistance:
Alpine, Amador, Butte. Calaveras, Colusa, Del-Norte, El Dorado, Glenn, Humboldt, Inyo, Kings, Lake, Lassen, Madera, Mariposa, Mendocino, Merced, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama, Tulare, Tuolumne, Yolo
Twenty-one of Oregon's 36 counties have also taken five of the steps identified by ILRC. Those counties do not have general prohibition on ICE assistance and do not have limitations on interrogations:
Baker County, Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Coos, Grant, Harney, Jackson, Jefferson County, Klamath, Lake, Lincoln, Malheur, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Union, Crook, Deschutes, Douglas, Wallowa
All 14 counties in Vermont meet every criterion except for limits on ICE interrogations and policies prohibiting ICE alerts.
Fulton County, Georgia, where the city of Atlanta and the surrounding area are, meets all of the criteria except for the prohibition on questions about legal status/country of origin, and enacting a general prohibition on ICE assistance.
Boulder County, Colorado, where the state's capital sits, has meets all of the criteria except for the prohibition on questions about legal status/country of origin, and enacting a general prohibition on ICE assistance.
Orleans County, Louisiana, has met every criterion except for a general prohibition on ICE assistance and the enactment of policies prohibiting ICE alerts.
Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania has met every criterion except for limits on ICE interrogations and policies prohibiting ICE alerts.
Prince George's County
Prince George's County Maryland, a suburb of Washington D.C. as meets all of the criteria except for the prohibition on questions about legal status/country of origin, and enacting a general prohibition on ICE assistance.
Rio Arriba County, New Mexico (population 40,246) has meets all of the criteria except for the prohibition on questions about legal status/country of origin, and enacting a general prohibition on ICE assistance.