In late January, Mayor John Cranley proudly announced Cincinnati, Ohio to be a “sanctuary city,” joining other prominent cities such as New York, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco. The new title indicates that the city will not enforce federal immigration laws against illegal immigrants. This decision, primarily in response to the ongoing Syrian Refugee Crisis (to learn more see this article), and to the recent executive order some call the Muslim travel ban, is a way for the city to uphold “the Statue of Liberty ideals” says Cranley, who also regards the change as a “badge of honor," according to Cincinnati.com. Regardless of the 6-2 City Council vote, this remains a controversial issue as different emotions and opinions about it constantly come into light.
Despite the immigration debate with the Trump administration, Cincinnati will not lose any of its $1 billion annual operating budget, which funds housing, roads, and other city expenses. However, it will not receive any funding for anything immigration related. Because the ruling does not violate any specific federal law, little can be done to stop the changes from being made. In regard to the local police force, most officers will be strongly discouraged from cooperating with federal immigration officials. Others are told to avoid active involvement in immigration enforcement as a whole. Chief Eliot Isaac says the main role of the Cincinnati Police Department is to cooperate with federal authorities if they seek assistance, while still being respectful of the rights of immigrants within the city’s new status as a sanctuary city.
For example, local enforcement agencies have not signed an optional agreement with federal authorities vowing to enforce immigration laws. “We don’t proactively seek out people who are undocumented or are overstaying their visas,” says police spokesman Steve Saunders to Cincinnati.com. “Immigrants will get the same treatment as anybody else if they commit a crime”.
Despite the recent publicity on the issue, Cincinnati has been taking steps to make this a reality for the past two years. Here are some ways that have made it more “immigrant friendly” throughout the planning of this process: March 2015: the police department adopts a policy vowing that officers will not enforce federal immigration laws.
2016: The city approves MARCC ID, an identification card given to illegal immigrants to allow them safety in Cincinnati. November 2016: Cincinnati Compass is set up. This is an online portal that helps immigrants find employment and educational opportunities. In cooperation with this, the University of Cincinnati, Xavier University, and Northern Kentucky University put $200,000 into immigrant education. Whatever one’s opinion on the issue, the ruling is not in spite of the new president and his contentious orders. It is rather a way to be welcoming and accepting toward the people who need help and a little bit of love.
Here’s what SUA has to say about the issue: “Personally I disagree with this decision because I’m proud to be an American and I think that if people want to live in our country they should have a desire to become citizens.” -Maddie Vaughan ‘18. “I’m okay with this idea because it brings a lot of diversity to our city, and immigrants also fill a lot of ‘everyday need’ type of jobs many people find helpful.” -Sarah Wampler ‘18. “I don’t see this being an issue if they’re not doing anything harmful to members of our society.”-Louisa Hummel ‘19. “I think it’s a good thing because we are learning to be more accepting and to see the good in people.” -Kimmie Girten ‘17. “I don’t think that they should not be allowed in our country because they could be taking jobs that legalized Americans need and can fulfill.” -Abby Zyck ‘18