By: Nettie Comerford
Delegates Julie Apagya-Bonney, Paola Escobedo, and Stephanie Labrador proposed to reform our sanctuary cities at the Youth and Government State Competition. The group’s proposal did not pass. The group received a 19.1, however the score needed to be a 19.5 or higher in order for the proposal to be passed. The group presented a comprehensive reform with hopes of decreasing the need for sanctuary cities leading to their eventual removal. Sanctuary cities in places like Los Angeles override the national law of deporting illegal immigrants with local law. Law enforcement in these cities typically do not turn in illegal immigrants, and instead protect them and provide them with social services. (LA Times) Bonney hopes their proposal will, “create a system in which the heated debate of illegal immigration can be handled.”
According to the group’s proposal, a qualified sanctuary city has a population of at least one million people, this ensures that the resources are provided for the incoming immigrants. Immigrants are provided with lawyers, education, including English classes and proper police protection. “To start, we will create a system lead by our department of immigration that will allow and deny people within three year’s time, to decrease the amount of illegal immigration. The time was set in place to allow proper vetting of all immigrants into the country…This should be a process that takes no longer than two years to become an official citizen. This process would consist of a resume of the immigrants and not the usual naturalization exam. Following this, the resumes would be review members of the immigration department where they’ll be accepted or denied upon this review applicants in the US will receive letters of acceptance and denial specific to their situation,” Escobedo said. The amount of time it takes for an immigrant to gain citizenship varies anywhere from four to nine years, this time partially varies due to the different progresses of each applicant. (American Immigration Center) “Throughout the documentation process, for some it’s been 20 years, for some it’s been 10, some it’s been three. Really there’s not a concise time, it’s been a difficult process,” Bonney said.
Not only is there an issue in the time it takes to gain citizenship, but the deportation of illegal immigrants would have a lasting economic effect on the United States economy. “It would cost roughly between $400 million to $600 million to deport all of the illegal immigrants in the United States and take on a length of 20 years and add $1.6 trillion deficit to our ever growing debt,” Bonney said. “Though many of these states and over the whole United States the effect on the state of Texas would be enormously disruptive and costly to the state perspective. Texas GDP last year was $1.5 trillion dollars on the cost to deport in terms of lost wages would be $1.6 trillion. This is why there needs to be reform and not complacency or total removal of sanctuary cities,” Bonney said.
Similarity the LA Times believes, “Instead of attacking sanctuary cities, Congress should be listening to their message. Sanctuary cities recognize that that in most cases, deportation is the wrong punishment for illegal immigration, which is a breach of civil, not criminal, law…No legal system can perfectly implement justice in every circumstance. Sanctuary serves now as it has in the past as a corrective and a challenge to such imperfection.” (LA Times)
Cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Austin, Dallas, and Houston work to protect immigrants who fear that they might be deported. According to The Nation, sanctuary cities provide their citizens with the necessary services such as financial and legal help. In situations involving domestic violence, or those facing persecution may have the rights but cannot afford the costs of legal help. These cities, to avoid the need for legal help work to avoid contact between immigrants and the criminal justice system. Often times minor crimes can lead to a person’s deportation. Sanctuary cities as well hope to provide citizens with health care.
Regardless of the outcome, the group still feels passionately about including immigrants in our societies. “We should have included a personal story so people could connect. We always have next year,” Bonney said.