Tampa immigrant family speaks out about Sanctuary Cities

What does it mean to be a sanctuary city?

TAMPA — Chicago is taking on the American government when it comes to so-called "sanctuary cities". It's suing the Department of Justice for penalizing cities that aren't fully cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or “ICE.”

The 46 page lawsuit was filed in court today.

Chicago argues that it's unconstitutional and misguided to keep grant money from cities that don't share information with federal immigration agents.

The city says withholding money undermines community safety.

The lawsuit is the latest push-back against a nation-wide immigration crackdown.

But do you really know what it means to be a “sanctuary city” -- like Chicago?

Nightside reporter Mark Rivera spoke with an immigrant family who knows just how scary it is when those words is thrown around.

To be a sanctuary city or county you have to have a law or policy that you will not use city resources to help Immigration and Customs Enforcement detain or arrest people based on immigration status or alleged non-violent crimes.

Basically, that means the city or county won't break federal laws, but it won't help ICE deport people anymore than it absolutely has to, no holding on to non-violent criminals or other favors, even if ICE asks.

The President wants to deny millions of dollars in federal funds for law enforcement to sanctuary cities, and that has three generations of an immigrant family in Tampa asking why?

“They separate children from their parents, siblings from each other, parents that have lived here here and been working for years, decades, without issues,” Marcelo Herrera said as his daughter Priscilla Valdes translated to English.

Herrera immigrated to the United States from Cuba on the Mariel Boatlift in 1980.

His American born daughter, Priscilla Valdes, says even though her dad came here legally and has spent nearly 30 years working in the states, before he got his green card, “he used to drive around really scared. Because any day, anything could happen to (him). If they choose to deport (him) they can,” she said.

Valdes says President Trump's threat to take away millions of dollars for law enforcement from sanctuary cities just doesn't make sense.

“It's discrimination. It's pure discrimination,” she said adding that forcing local cops to report non-violent immigrants to ICE is wrong.

“Don't include the police in that. If you want to push immigration towards something like that...OK great. But don't put it on the actual police force. It's so ignorant and so naive to think that people are going to come to this country just to wreak havok? No. They're coming here because they want their freedoms. They want their rights just like we do,” Valdes said.

That's just one perspective.

Here's the other side. The trump administration believes people who didn't immigrate here legally and commit crimes should be sent back - regardless of the crime committed.

Now Tampa, St. Pete, Hillsborough, and Pinellas counties are *not sanctuary areas.

They'll work with ICE to hold undocumented immigrants when asked.

If they didn't, they could lose hundreds of thousands dollars in federal grants because of President Trump.

Florida law enforcement received almost $11 million dollars in federal money this year alone.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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