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The debate over sanctuary cities rages on

Sanctuary cities have been a hot-button immigration issue in Florida and around the country in recent months. Immigrant advocacy groups say that these communities allow hard-working people to avoid persecution and live in peace, but those seeking tighter border controls claim that sanctuary cities are hotbeds of crime and violence. President Trump issued an executive order just days after taking office stripping federal funds from cities that harbor undocumented immigrants and refuse to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but it was blocked by a federal judge for violating the Fifth and Tenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Sanctuary cities are communities where local leaders have decided to assist undocumented immigrants by obstructing the efforts of federal authorities. The first sanctuary city was Berkeley, CA, which passed a resolution in 1971 to protect sailors who refused to fight in Vietnam. Less than a year after Trump attempted to defund sanctuary cities, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that effectively makes California a sanctuary state.

Connecticut, Oregon, Vermont and Rhode Island have also passed laws that place limits on how much local police can assist federal immigration authorities. These laws have been criticized by the White House, but they are broadly supported by mayors and other local leaders.

Attorneys with experience in U.S. immigration law may be following the debate over sanctuary cities closely. Undocumented immigrants who wish to work and live legally in the United States face many obstacles, but attorneys may be able to explain how the nation's immigration laws may sometimes provide a path to citizenship or permanent residence even to those who have entered the country illegally. Attorneys may be able to file asylum petitions on behalf of immigrants who are fleeing persecution and advocate on behalf of those facing deportation proceedings.

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