Berkeley’s sanctuary status is under threat as President Donald Trump issues stricter deportation rules to accelerate the process of expelling undocumented immigrants.
Expedited removal is a policy enforced during former president Barack Obama’s administration, used for removing undocumented immigrants with false documentation who are apprehended within 14 days and 100 miles of the border. Under Trump’s plan, the rules apply to undocumented immigrants anywhere in the country who cannot prove their continuous presence in the United States for two years before apprehension.
Since Trump’s election to the presidency, Mayor Jesse Arreguin has committed to maintaining Berkeley’s sanctuary status in order to ensure the city will not cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, who rely heavily on local law enforcement agencies to expedite the removal of undocumented immigrants in cities without protective policies in place for immigrants.
Professor Leti Volpp of the UC Berkeley School of Law said having sanctuary policies in place does not prevent the federal government from arresting undocumented immigrants.
“The sanctuary ordinances and legislation are about state or local law enforcement agencies not using their resources for immigration enforcement purposes; they cannot prohibit the federal government from acting,” Volpp said.
The undocumented immigrant community has been anticipating a crackdown by the Trump administration, according to ASUC Senator Benyamin Yusof. He said while DACA protects most undocumented students from being deported, these students are still directly affected because of the impact such an order can have on their families.
“We are not being prioritized,” Yusof said. “We are worried that our families might suffer if ICE starts knocking door-to-door.”
Pieter Sittler, internal vice president of Berkeley College Republicans, said Berkeley will not be affected by the new rules as long as it stays a sanctuary city. He added that local authorities can choose not to comply but they will see an increasing amount of pressure from the federal administration to follow these rules.
“All Trump is doing is fulfilling campaign promise,” Sittler said. “63 million Americans voted for that and their concern for national identity and sovereignty should be addressed.”
Volpp said similar measures were also implemented under the Obama administration but that President Trump has shifted enforcement priorities. Instead of removing convicted criminals, those “thought” to have committed an act that an officer deems as a public offense can now be arrested and detained, according to Volpp.
“Trump has widened the net for who can be considered a criminal,” Volpp said.
Yusof, an undocumented immigrant himself, said communities such as Berkeley are making efforts to educate people about their rights, which include not complying with the orders of law enforcement officials without a warrant.
“The goal is to empower them so they can advocate for themselves,” Yusof said. “We communicate with one another so when ICE is conducting raids people can react and be safe.”