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Dealing with immigration issues here and now

Louisville is not officially labeled as a so-called “sanctuary city.” The mayor is on record, though, as saying that the city is welcoming to immigrants. He also says the city isn’t making arrests of individuals who are in violation of immigration law. That continues to put the onus on each individual seeking to comply with immigration laws and protect his or her rights.

For those few who may not be aware, the term sanctuary city is an informal one. In today’s vernacular it generally refers to local governments that limit police cooperation with federal immigration authorities. Often this takes the form of local police refusing to hold arrested individuals longer than the law allows just because Immigration Customs and Enforcement officials ask them to.

The potential for change

If ICE can produce a court order calling for continued detention that might change things. But in many jurisdictions, officials argue that immigration is a federal issue and they are not authorized to enforce federal law. They also argue that they open themselves up to possible legal action if they do detain someone on the basis of just an ICE request.

Recently, the Republican-controlled House in Washington passed a couple of measures in a bid to toughen immigration enforcement. One would step up prison terms for deportees who reenter the country improperly. The second would cut off federal funds from those jurisdictions that choose to ignore ICE requests of detention.

There are questions about whether the measures can make it through the Senate and reach the president’s desk. Some experts question whether the second House measure could possibly pass constitutional muster against an almost-certain legal battle. We can only wait and see.

In the meantime, immigrants facing legal challenges will want to manage their cases within the context of the laws now in effect. To be sure of rights and obligations under those laws, consulting a skilled attorney is crucial.

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