Why Is ICE Arresting Undocumented Immigrants In A Sanctuary City

The answer lies within the Russian nesting doll structure of our government and law enforcement jurisdictions. The City of Urbana sits within Champaign County which sits within the State of Illinois which sits within the United States of America.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is a federal agency that  enforces federal immigration laws, and its agents have jurisdiction throughout the country. This means they can arrest people who have entered the country illegally or do not currently have legal status, if they have the evidence to do so. ICE must follow the same constitutional requirements as other law enforcement agencies. They also have their own agency policies for “sensitive locations” and courthouses.  

According to University of Illinois law professor Francis Boyle and reporting from NPR, to identify people in the country illegally, ICE agents rely on a variety of tactics: the cooperation of local law enforcement agencies, tips from everyday citizens, immigration status information from state, local, regional databases, and others.

Because of ICE’s federal jurisdiction, the City of Urbana’s reaffirmed Sanctuary City Resolution NO. 2016-12-070R does not protect residents in the country illegally from deportation by ICE. However, the resolution does say that:

No city employee or official or department or agency of the City of Urbana shall request information about or otherwise investigate or assist in the investigation of the citizenship or immigration status of any person unless such inquiry or the investigation is required by a court order.

This means that while the City of Urbana cannot stop ICE agents from arresting and deporting those not legally authorized to be in the country, the city’s law enforcement and staff will not assist ICE agents in finding residents who have entered the country illegally unless they receive a court order to do so.

This question collected from multiple people at the Rally against ICE on June 23rd at the Drury Inn in Champaign, IL.