Sanctuary cities around the United States, including New York City, were threatened last week when President Donald Trump issued an executive order allocating billions of dollars in federal funding for immigration enforcement.
Although the executive order was blocked Wednesday morning by a San Francisco judge who ruled that the order was unconstitutional, this action against sanctuary cities demonstrates the increased threats that undocumented citizens and immigrants could face in the future. The city argued that the order would create tension between local law enforcement and immigrants and would have repercussions throughout the legal system, according to an article in the New York Times.
Professor of Anthropology and Social and Cultural Analysis Arlene Davila is a member of NYU Sanctuary Faculty, and she believes that the main purpose of the order was to force declared sanctuary cities to comply with the immigration order.
“The threat is meant to intimidate and make it difficult for people to take positions,” Davila said. “That’s what’s interesting here — these are fear tactics more than anything else. It’s like saying that we stop thinking about freedom and what’s right and the dignity of all people because it’s not financially profitable.”
Davila said there needs to be public resistance to orders like this one.
“Right now, the important thing to think about is the importance of a social movement,” Davila said. “I think [this issue] is going to escalate at a national level where it’s not just limited to [New York City] or NYU but it’s going to be a national debate because it goes back to the fact that the money in question is our taxes.”
Professor of Latino Studies Cristina Beltran said in an interview with NBC that the threat to New York City as a sanctuary city increases the prominence of the Sanctuary Campus movement at NYU.
“[The Sessions announcement] actually makes the need for NYU Sanctuary even more important, because before one could say that New York was a sanctuary city so we don’t need to worry about this,” Beltran said. “But now it’s like the city’s capacities are in question. A sanctuary university is about enacting the world as we want it to be. This is where we need to stand up. We want to be a brave institution in scary times.”
CAS sophomore and member of NYU Sanctuary Izzy Khoufaify said that the fact that NYU is situated in New York City makes it crucial for the university to become a sanctuary campus.
“I think the recent threats only reinforce the need for NYU to become a sanctuary campus,” Khoufaify said. “[New York City] has been very vocal about its resistance to the administration and its threats, so seeing how NYU is ‘in and of the city’, it is imperative that we stand with them to protect our students.”
Email Arushi Sahay at [email protected]