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Legal issues surrounding sanctuary cities likely to increase under President Trump, P.2

Previously, we began looking at a lawsuit recently filed out in California by an undocumented immigrant who was turned over to federal immigration authorities by local law enforcement. The contention is that police violated San Francisco's sanctuary city law. It remains to be seen how that case will be resolved, but it is likely that such cases will become increasingly commonplace in the coming months and years, not only in California but in Texas and other states as well.

Part of the problem with the issue of sanctuary cities is that there is no accepted definition of the term. The general meaning is a city which does not allow local and state authorities from identifying undocumented immigrants to federal authorities. Governor Greg Abbot has raised the stakes on the issue by promising to cut state funding to sanctuary cities in Texas. Donald Trump also promised a similar policy which would end federal funding for sanctuary cities.

Exactly what types of policies quality as sanctuary policies is not entirely clear. Austin is a city which may, or may not, qualify as a sanctuary city. While it has not been officially declared a "sanctuary city," it has declared a policy of being welcoming to immigrants, with some law enforcement agencies promising not to hold undocumented immigrants in jail longer than their criminal sentences require, a tactic that is sometimes used to turn immigrants over to federal authorities.

The legal questions of whether local authorities can be punished for failing to alert federal authorities about known illegal immigrant or for assisting in immigration law enforcement in a locality designated as a sanctuary, are not always easy to answer under concrete circumstances. For immigrants who have become caught in circumstances where these issues are at play, working with an experienced immigration law attorney is critical to protect their rights. 

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