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The ongoing battle over Louisville sanctuary city status

Ever since Cincinnati declared itself a sanctuary city in January 2017, Greg Fischer, mayor of Louisville, Kentucky, has been under pressure to do likewise. As reported in the Courier Journal, activist groups favoring the expansion of Louisville’s friendly policies toward undocumented immigrants have been demonstrating for months. They want Mayor Fischer and the Metro Council to do more to aid and protect these immigrants.

Reports continue to circulate that Louisville law enforcement officers are helping U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in their efforts to find immigrants who are illegally living in the city. The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting says that local officers assisted ICE agents at least 24 times in the first six months of 2017.

Proponent arguments

A recent report by the Kentucky League of Cities cited testimony before the Kentucky Legislature’s Interim Joint Committee on the Judiciary that approximately 50,000 illegal immigrants lived in Kentucky in 2014, up from fewer than 10,000 in 1995. At least 20,000 of these immigrants live in Louisville.

Louisville sanctuary city proponents argue that protecting the rights of undocumented immigrants is a moral issue. They point out that when local law enforcement helps ICE, victims of domestic violence who are undocumented are afraid to “call the police for assistance because they fear they will get deported.” Mayor Fischer has acknowledged that such a situation “erodes the trust that our city has worked to build with our immigrant and foreign-born community.”

Opponent arguments

The Trump administration has threatened to cut federal funding to cities that do not comply with federal immigration law. This has resulted in continuing battles between sanctuary cities and the federal government as the cities seek to protect their undocumented immigrant populations while not losing badly needed federal funding. With regard to Louisville, Mayor Fischer has stated, “What we say is we’re a welcoming city. This term sanctuary city has become very politically divisive, and obviously, there is no one place that you register to become a sanctuary city.”

Obviously the battle over Louisville’s sanctuary city status is far from over. Only time will tell its ultimate outcome.

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