BY NANCY MAZMANIAN
Photo courtesy of AP Images. Palm Springs City Hall where the vote to make Palm Springs a sanctuary city took place.
In a 4-1 vote, city council members motioned to make Palm Springs the latest city in Southern California to claim the title of “sanctuary city.”
What exactly is a sanctuary city? The term “sanctuary city” is not an actual government term itself. In recent years, it has been used more as a demonstration by Democratic-governed cities to reject the current administration’s conservative immigration policies and the “American ideals” they project. Sanctuary cities limit their cooperation with the federal government’s immigration laws.
Local policies usually include prohibiting police or city officials from questioning an individual’s immigration status and refusing national immigration authorities requests. Government officials of sanctuary cities hope to reduce the fear of deportation and possible break up of families among people who are illegally in the country so that these people are more willing to report crimes, use health and social services and enroll their children in school.
For Palm Springs, becoming a sanctuary city, “doesn’t change anything in our existing laws. This is already…the current law. The police department has had the policies, as they’re noted in here, for decades. But, the ordinances we’ve already passed, it doesn’t change anything in that,” Councilmember Geoff Kors told KESQ.
A non-discrimination order was approved by the council in April 2017. This prohibited police discrimination and profiling and prevented anyone from providing information to the city by their religion or immigration status. Police chief Bryan Reyes of Palm Springs expressed his support for this supported order and added that the department has followed this since 1981.
“Palm Springs, I feel, is different. Everyone is very accepting of people from different backgrounds and preferences. It’s just another reaffirming thing towards Palm Springs being accepting and progressive as it has been for so long,” said COD student, Alexandra Salinas.
Lately, there has been a trend within city converting, especially since the Trump administration came into place. Sanctuary cities have become one of the Trump administration’s favorite targets. Jeff Sessions spent most of his first year as attorney general trying to find ways to block sanctuary cities from receiving federal grant money and are now moving on to use the courts to bring down their policies. To Sessions, sanctuary cities are rogue places where laws go out the windows and are allied with “open border radicals.” Studies on the relationship between sanctuary status and crime have shown that sanctuary policies do not affect crime, or that sanctuary cities have lower rates of crime and stronger economies than non-sanctuary comparable towns.