Taking a Lesson from History to Provide True Sanctuary for Our Immigrants

By Jhumpa Bhattacharya

Sanctuary: a place of refuge and protection — Merriam-Webster dictionary.

I had to travel to Birmingham, Alabama for work last month. I’m a fairly seasoned traveler and normally have no qualms taking trips to places I have never been. But post- election, and particularly with the Travel Ban, for the first time in a long while I found myself feeling a bit apprehensive about traveling to the South. I expressed my concern about “traveling while Brown” to my partner and he responded, “Birmingham just passed a resolution to be a sanctuary city!” and to his credit, I did feel better about going. I took comfort in knowing that the city government had taken this stance.

Shortly after that conversation, news of massive ICE raids broke. Federal agents raided homes and workplaces in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, the Los Angeles area, North Carolina and South Carolina, tearing apart families and sparking terror in millions of people. I was terribly confused. How could raids be happening in cities that proclaimed themselves to be sanctuaries? What were city officials and city police doing to prevent these from happening? “What are you expecting?” my partner asked, “Law enforcement to fight law enforcement?”

Click here to read her full op-ed on Medium.