Sanctuary Movements Provide Safety for Immigrants

While courts throughout the nation battle the long-fought war of immigration rights and regulations, several U.S. cities have opened their arms and created sanctuaries for residents without proper immigration forms.

In Baltimore, the city has opened its doors to those without citizenship, according to The Baltimore Sun. In direct disagreement with states like Alabama, which require employers to check the immigration status of their employees, all businesses in Baltimore are prohibited from doing so. The Sun also stated that the city’s mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, prohibits city employees, including Baltimore’s police forces, from asking any individual about his or her status.

The city hopes that by adding numbers to its own population, Baltimore’s economy can benefit.

“Our ambition is to grow Baltimore by 10,000 families in the next 10 years,” she told a group of Latino immigrants last week. “I think you can help me with that.”

Baltimore’s actions as a city also hope to show the nation that immigration reform needs to take into account the humanitarian aspects of individuals’ situations. According to a 2011 study by the University of California, Berkeley Law School, one third of those deported through the Secure Communities program had a spouse or child with U.S. citizenship.

While Baltimore’s policy, when compared with other state’s laws, seems extreme, the city’s actions are not unprecedented. In Arizona, the Sanctuary Movement recently turned 30, Fox News Latino reported. The movement began on March 24, 1982, when a Presbyterian church decided to turn its worshipping grounds into a sanctuary for Central Americans who were illegally immigrating due to the warring factions of their homelands. Several churches throughout the state soon joined the movement, providing relief for hundreds of refugees. The churches were also instrumental in a 1991 agreement, which found that the federal government was in violation of its own laws when it denied political asylum to these Central American people. Because of this, several hundred undocumented refugees were allowed to apply for work permits.