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There's more to immigrant sanctuary than some label

There is a great deal of emotional upheaval in Kentucky and the rest of the country over the state of federal policy on immigration. The Trump administration has suffered a setback from the courts on its efforts to curtail travel by individuals from majority Muslim countries. At the same time, the president has issued a warning that his administration is prepared to cut federal funds to local jurisdictions identified as so-called "sanctuary cities" and step up action on deportations.

What does that mean, and what does such a designation mean in the Louisville area? The question must certainly be top of mind for many if the headlines in the news are any indication. As one recent story noted, there is no formal definition for what constitutes a sanctuary city under federal law. What the term indicates, though, is that a local government follows a policy of not being proactive in turning over arrested undocumented immigrants to federal officials for deportation.

That is something that Louisville government does in practice, though the mayor has sought to avoid any direct declaration of sanctuary city status. Rather, he prefers to speak in terms of Louisville being "a welcoming city" where police don't make arrests based on immigration status.

Protecting the rights of individuals facing deportation is complex and emotional in the best of situations and the current environment definitely doesn't make things easier. Facing up to that challenge is something that is best met with the support of a skilled attorney.

For now, immigrants and refugees may take heart in the fact that the city remains a place of relative safe haven. Only time will tell if Louisville decides to take on the sanctuary city label.

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