Breathe.

It has been an intense 24 hours. Emotions are high and people are scared. Before you read this blog I want you to take a deep breath. Repeat.

Let's recap what has happened.

Donald Trump has signed two executive actions that fulfill his campaign promises of building a wall at the Mexican border, deportations, and threatening sanctuary cities. You can see a full list of all 12 of his executive actions by clicking here.  

Executive Action Definition: "Executive actions are information proposals or moves by the president. Many executive actions carry no legal weight. Those that do actually set policy that can be invalidated by the courts or undone by legislation passed by congress." For more on the difference between an executive action vs. executive order click here.  

What is a sanctuary city?

Sanctuary City Definition: "A sanctuary city is a city that has adopted a policy of protecting illegal immigrants [undocumented immigrants] by not prosecuting them for violating federal immigration laws in the country in which they are now living illegally [undocumented]. This policy can be observed through the passing of a law [legislation] or only in practice. The term applies to cities that do not use municipal funds or resources to enforce national immigration laws, and usually forbid police or municipal employees to inquire about a person's immigration status. The designation of sanctuary city has no legal meaning." - Aspen Law Offices, www.apsanlaw.com

At its basic core, it is about eliminating an agreement to share data about people with ICE (Immigration Customs Enforcement). This also means that if an undocumented immigrant does commit a crime they will held accountable by the laws of the United States.

Is Pittsburgh a sanctuary city?

Not exactly. Currently, the city of Pittsburgh as a matter of practice does not prosecute undocumented individuals for violating federal immigration laws. However, there is no law on the books that reflects that practice.

Recently, Pittsburgh public schools recently declared they were a sanctuary campus and Chatham University has taken steps to become a sanctuary campus.

What does Pittsburgh becoming a sanctuary city mean to you?

Not much. The city of Pittsburgh is saving time and money by not using their public resources to go after undocumented individuals. 

For more insights on the economic impact of immigration, read this Wall Street Journal article.

Are all undocumented individuals criminals?

Contrary to the stereotype of the "criminal illegal alien", undocumented immigrants are people, working hard to give their families a better life. The idea of what a "criminal" is universal and subjective. If you think that undocumented immigrants are criminals I would reflect on your values and how they have impacted what the word "criminal" means to you. 

How does this issue intersect with black lives?

What can I do?

  • There will be rallies in the coming days, attend one.
  • Call your Pittsburgh council person and ask them to introduce and pass legislation that makes Pittsburgh a sanctuary city by law.
  • Talk to people about what it means to be a sanctuary city and why you think it is important that Pittsburgh be one.
  • Continue to educate yourself using multiple news sources and be a critical thinker around this issue.
  • Stay woke, there will be more actions to come.

Other Resources:


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