Humanitarian Aid is Never a Crime? The Politics of Immigration Enforcement and the Provision of Sanctuary
48 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2012 Last revised: 19 Jun 2013
Date Written: July 20, 2012
This Article argues that the unprecedented increase in the enforcement of immigration law – on both the border and the interior – and the politics surrounding comprehensive immigration reform has given rise to a renewed need for the provision of sanctuary for undocumented immigrants, and surveys the different forms of action that can constitute sanctuary. Part I discusses the legal argument that “humanitarian aid is never a crime.” Part II discusses the current effort by legislatures in states such as Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Utah to further criminalize and prosecute individuals who provide humanitarian aid for “harboring” or “transporting” undocumented immigrants at the state level, including those who provide food, shelter, and medical treatment. Part III examines previous federal prosecutions of providers of humanitarian aid to migrants, particularly those affiliated with the faith-based Sanctuary Movement of the 1980s, while also looking at the various forms of action sanctuary for undocumented immigrants can take. The Article concludes with Part IV, which discusses how the provision of sanctuary to undocumented immigrants has been linked to the unpopular political term “amnesty,” how this negative framing of the issue has hindered reasonable proposals for immigration reform such as the DREAM Act, and offers suggestions for how we can move toward crafting comprehensive immigration reform that puts the sanctity of human life on par with national security.
Keywords: SB 1070, US v Arizona, Alabama HB 56, Utah, Indiana, South Carolina, Oklahoma, immigration, enforcement, sanctuary cities, DREAM Act
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