Quite literally, a “sanctuary” is described as a place of “refuge or safety”. In an unkind world, these places that can be deemed as sanctuaries serve as a beacon of hope for those less fortunate. In our country, “sanctuary cities” do the same for those seeking refuge in a land where the citizens, the leaders, and the media make it clear they are not welcome.
So, what exactly is a “sanctuary city”? In the United States, a sanctuary city is a city or community that has certain policies or laws, whether via legitimate laws or simply societal habits, in place allowing them to not prosecute an unauthorized citizen. Some of these cities in the United States are New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, and, our own city, San Francisco.
Sanctuary cities are an old notion, but today have stemmed in our modern society primarily in a response to the influx of Latino and Hispanic immigrants. Proponents of the concept claim that sanctuary cities offer immigrants a place to cooperate with police and law enforcement without fear of deportation or harassment, meaning safer streets and less violence from a marginalized community. While opponents claim that allowed unauthorized citizens to remain in our country causes a security issue; removing these people would be what would decrease violence in communities and make our country safer.
Recently in San Francisco, there was a fatal shooting. The culprit of such a horrific act was found to be Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an unauthorized immigrant. According to reports involving the incident, Lopez-Sanchez fired a weapon he had found, which then ricocheted and struck a young woman, Kathryn Steinle, and killed her. Lopez-Sanchez, despite the fact he had been arrested numerous times in the Bay Area, had also been released numerous times due to our city’s status as a sanctuary. Though this incredibly devastating incident appears to have been mostly an accident, it has become the kindling to a rapidly developing debate centering around “illegal immigration” in California.
What if San Francisco was not a sanctuary city? Would Lopez-Sanchez have not had the ability to inflict such harm in a community only trying to aid individuals in his position? Should all unauthorized citizens living in the Bay Area suffer for what is mostly the failings of a conflicted federal system?
- Rachel Nipper
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