Jersey City has added its name to the growing list of so-called “sanctuary cities” that are promising to protect illegal immigrants from deportation. Only one week after Donald Trump was elected president, Mayor Steve Fulop told reporters that Jersey City would remain “the golden door to this country for immigrants” despite Trump’s plan to deport all criminal illegal immigrants.
Current estimates show that there are around 23,000 illegal immigrants in Jersey City. That’s almost 10 percent of the total population.
There’s no official definition of “sanctuary city” on the books yet, and some lawmakers are urging politicians to put their proposals onto paper. For example, Chia-Chia Wang, the advocacy director of Newark’s American Friends Service Committee, said she wants to see Mayor Fulop write down his policy on anti-deportation to help ever New Jersey immigration lawyer fight for social justice.
Wang told reporters that the illegal immigrants she works with are in “despair” over a Trump presidency. She says illegal immigrants feel like they won’t have “any rights” with Trump in the White House.
Jersey City officials started using the term “sanctuary city” in the 1990s. In 1996, politicians defined a “sanctuary city” as a city refused to use funds to identify and/or apprehend undocumented immigrants. However, no New Jersey immigration lawyer has officially defined the term yet.
A few other cities that have declared their “sanctuary” status since Trump’s election include Los Angeles, Oakland, New York City, Newark, Chicago, New Haven, and Washington, D.C. All of these cities have Democratic mayors.
It’s still unclear what will happen to these cities if they do not comply with the Trump administration’s policy of deportation.
One spokeswoman for Jersey City, Jennifer Morrill, said she was interested in implementing a municipal ID program in the city. If this program develops in Jersey City, then immigrants without documents will still be able to obtain financial services. This program is already in place in Newark.
Trump has pledged to deport millions of immigrants once he gets into office in January. Trump also said he simply won’t fund cities that don’t enforce his policy of deportation.
There are about 11 to 12 million illegal immigrants in the USA right now.