As we recognize throughout our policy study, there are usually clear separations in political views with policy agendas. Views on immigration are no different. A June 2015 PEW Research Center trends study found that 71% of Republicans say immigrants in the U.S. are making crime worse, compared to just 34% of Democrats. The same view is reflected in how Republicans see immigrants’ contribution to the economy: 71% of Republicans say immigrants make the economy worse, compared to 34% of Democrats. There has always been a focus on the risk that immigrants bring to the U.S. and its citizens from a Republican standpoint, contrasted with one of the benefits or the need to help the immigrants in the Democrats’ view. I believe both parties want to help immigrants, but I also recognize a need to ensure the overall safety of our country and its citizens. One belief that both parties tend to have in common is that U.S. immigration policies are weak and need attention.
Even more differences are evident between states, cities, and municipalities. There are major differences in the way that three states are handling “sanctuary cities.” California has laws in place to support the legal concerns of immigrants and plans to increase the size of detention centers to support the immigration population increase. Texas is implementing laws to charge city officials if they do not comply with state laws and other enforcement measures. Florida falls somewhere between both extremes, with cities throughout Florida having the ability to set their own immigration measures (as reported by NBC News in October 2017).
The policy of policing undocumented immigrants is quite controversial. No one wants to rip families apart and separate those who love each other the most; however, the safety of all citizens is the priority. As a country, we have so many people incarcerated for minor crimes. If we are looking closely at how to help as many undocumented immigrants as possible stay with their families, perhaps the same concept should be true for all citizens. For sanctuary cities to claim that police relationships are so important as one of their proclaimed reasons for resisting offering assistance, many of those very cities struggle with racial divides among police and the citizens. This area of policy is one that will need to be addressed at all levels of government to be successful. I do not feel that the federal government can make progress without the buy-in at the state levels, and the states getting support from their cities and municipalities. It’s one of those wonderful areas of policy where true collaboration between all actors is going to make it successful for everyone.