Though the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is strongly in favor of sanctuary cities within the United States, there are some members of the organization who do not agree with the stance. One of those adverse individuals is Al Zucaro, a Boca lawyer of immigration law and the co-founder of the Palm Beach Regional Center. Zucaro adamantly believes that sanctuary cities are a direct violation of the law.
“Local governments that provide safe haven for criminal, illegal aliens should be held to some level of accountability for endangering the lives and safety of their residents,” said Al Zucaro.
Although the term has no legal meaning, a sanctuary city refers to a city in either the United States or Canada that has policies in place that shelter illegal immigrants. Cities that qualify usually do not allow for city funds and/or resources to go towards the enforcement of federal immigration laws, meaning local law enforcement cannot ask about the immigration status of a person(s) within the sanctuary city. The policy was enacted in Los Angeles in 1979 in order to stop police from asking arrested individuals their immigration status.
The AILA supports sanctuary cities because they do not feel like eliminating them is the right solution to illegal immigration, or to further preventing any crimes. The association feels that detaining people based solely on their immigration status is a violation of the fourth amendment which says law enforcement agencies or officers must have probable cause that a law has been broken to detain an individual.
In addition to Zucaro’s opposition to sanctuary cities, he does support the State of Florida’s House Bill 675, which states that local and state governmental agencies are required to abide by and support the enforcement of federal laws relating to immigration, as well as Florida Senate Bill 118, which prohibits “the presence within the state of persons subject to final deportation orders unless such orders have been stayed pending judicial review.”
Zucaro feels the argument that comprehensive immigration reform is needed does not excuse current laws from being enforced, and for any laws where reform is needed that such reform should be accomplished only through the legislative process.
“I do not believe that the notion of a “broken” immigration system is political justification for lawlessness. We have federal laws on the books and they should be enforced with vigor; selective enforcement negates from the notion that we are a country of laws. Congress makes the laws; the executive is sworn to uphold the laws, all the laws, not only the ones he/she likes,” concluded Al Zucaro.