Compass Academy Student Column: Seriously discouraging Sanctuaries in Idaho

Idaho passed an anti-sanctuary city law in 2017, but evidence suggests ‘sanctuary’ protections help catch criminals and decrease overall crime rates , writes Maya Peters-Greno.

“My ancestors supported immigrants – I see no reason to change. I believe in humanity first.” said Representative Paulette Jordan when she voted “no,” pertaining to the anti-sanctuary law, passed last January.

She voted “no” as the only descendant of Native Americans and said, “[There’s] irony [in] seeing immigrants have prejudice towards other immigrants.”

“Sanctuary cities” protect immigrants by giving them safe places to live where they can be involved with the community without the fear of being deported.

The bill was proposed by Rep. Greg Chaney, R-Caldwell, and discourages Idaho from having “sanctuary cities” — cities that don’t cooperate with federal immigration agents — by withholding tax sales funds.

Law enforcement is now obligated to search for citizenship status when arresting immigrants and informing federal authorities (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) if such proof cannot be provided.

Chaney believes sanctuary cities, counties or states are ineffective because they “become a magnet where those who are escaping prosecution might flock to.”

There is data that proves otherwise. A study by Tom Wong, political science professor at University of California, analyzed the FBI’s crime data from 2015 and concluded that sanctuary counties experienced 35.5 fewer crimes per 10,000 people and sanctuary metropolitan areas experienced 65.4 fewer crimes per 10,000 people than cities with non-sanctuary laws.

Such policies encourage undocumented immigrants to cooperate with local police, aid in investigations and report crimes without fearing deportation, helping catch criminals and decreasing overall crime rates.

According to the Migration Policy Institute and the American Immigration Council, there are an estimated 33,000 undocumented Mexican immigrants in Idaho.

Due to the drug war in Mexico, it’s clear why so many people are seeking refuge in a safer part of America. The Mexican government found that from 2007 to 2014, more than 164,000 Mexicans were homicide victims, rates higher than some warring countries. Many sanctuary cities protect those escaping perils from being deported, letting them lead happier lives, which is arguably a human right.

With such high numbers of undocumented immigrants in Idaho, why we have a law that discourages cities and counties from helping them, is beyond me. Don’t we want to make sure that everyone lives fear-free lives?

Boise, Twin Falls and Ketchum are welcoming cities, complying with the new anti-sanctuary law, but also offering social programs that help immigrants and refugees assimilate. They have a friendly environment toward immigrants, without turning the cities into “crime magnets.” Having welcoming cities in Idaho is a step in the right direction towards helping others.

However, we can do better. I propose we get rid of anti-sanctuary laws and build sanctuary areas to help immigrants be a part of our community and start anew in the U.S.A., land of the free and home of the brave. Because, if travelling hundreds of miles with death close behind to find a better future for yourself and your family isn’t brave, then I don’t know what is.

Maya is an 11th grade students at Compass Academy who was born in Madrid, Spain and moved to Idaho Falls less than three years ago. In her free time Maya enjoys reading mystery novels and spending time with friends and family.