As the Trump administration ramps up its immigration reforms and enforcement, sanctuary cities and states have found themselves squarely in the federal government's legal crosshairs. The lawsuits have been flying, and people are wondering whether immigration enforcement agents will respect churches as sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants.
Although U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement designates churches as "sensitive" places to be avoided when making arrests, living in a church -- or a sanctuary city or state -- is no guarantee against deportation. Here's what you need to know.
Essentially, sanctuary cities decline to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement, meaning local law enforcement generally does not inquire to the immigrations status of residents it comes in contact with, nor does it pass along immigration status to federal offices or officials.
Some states have extended sanctuary city policies statewide, in an effort to encourage immigrants to cooperate with local law enforcement, utilize public services, and seek emergency medical care if needed.
On the other hand, some states have sought to punish sanctuary cities for non-cooperation on immigration enforcement. A Lone Star State law requires police chiefs and sheriffs to comply with federal requests to hold criminal suspects for possible deportation, and those who don't could be removed from office, fined, or even jailed.
Sanctuary jurisdictions have their supporters and detractors, and the battle between local and state law enforcement and federal immigration policy is far from over. In the meantime, millions of immigrants may be caught in the crossfire.