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Changes may be ahead for sanctuary cities

Undocumented immigrants who are released from federal prison in South Carolina may be turned directly over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement based on a policy shift. At the end of February, the targeting of so-called "sanctuary cities" began. These are cities that protect immigrants from being deported.

Normally, when undocumented immigrants are released from federal prison but face state charges, ICE requests that they be held until they can be transferred to a detention facility for deportation. However, many jurisdictions felt that this request was illegal because they had no grounds under which to continue to hold the former prisoners. As a result, they began releasing them instead. Under the new policy, the immigrants will be released directly to ICE unless the jurisdiction agrees to do so.

Opponents of the new policy say that immigrant communities will now be less likely to report crime for fear that doing so will lead to the perpetrator being deported. There are concerns about the federal government disrupting local policing.

People who are facing deportation have a right to legal assistance, and it is possible that their removal may be prevented. As this case demonstrates, immigration law is also subject to change, and different jurisdictions may approach immigration in different ways. Some areas are more inclined to offer protection to immigrants than others An attorney may be able to help with a variety of immigration situations and may be able to inform people of avenues that they are unaware of. These may be related to their family situations or their job skills. If they face persecution in their home country, seeking asylum might be advisable.

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