Leaders in Springfield discuss Sanctuary Cities

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Sanctuary cities are places that protect illegal immigrants from being deported.

There’s none in Missouri.

Local law enforcement say they protect dangerous thugs from the law.

But others point to our broken immigration system or those who want to come here legally.

“I am not a fan of sanctuary cities,” Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott said. “I think if you are here illegally in the United States then you need to abide by the laws and you need to be punished. The sanctuary city issue is they protect them. And they don’t allow their police to go after and identify these people.”

“We don’t oppose anybody trying to improve their lives by coming to the United States,” U.S. of Western District of Missouri Tim Garrison said. “I consider myself very blessed to be born here. I’m not opposed to immigration. My daughter is an immigrant. But we’re a nation of laws. Immigration has to be done lawfully.”

Garrison is one of the top federal attorneys in Missouri.

He helps manage illegal immigration cases in the Ozarks.

He recently praised the cooperation of local police, and their effort to catch violent illegal aliens.

Many of whom have been deported several times.

But what about people who haven’t committed gun and drug crimes?

“There is a commission of a crime because you’re here illegally,” Arnott said. “So bottom line is, that’s it, you can’t be here. There are ways, and I know many people who’ve gotten their citizenship or they go through and get a work visa and do things properly.”

“And to turn a blind eye to cases in which someone has come here unlawfully and is not otherwise committing crimes, that’s still a slap in the face to those who have done it the right way,” Garrison said.

“Do you think that’s the correct step we’re doing right now? Of course,” Yolanda Lorge president of Grupo Latino-Americano said. “It’s the rule of law. I don’t think anyone argues that. The way the immigration laws are right now, they don’t make much sense.”

They give people information on how to come to the U.S. legally.

But she’s seen first hand how hard that process is.

“People cannot apply to come legally, let’s say residency, just because I want to live there, just because I want to have a better job,” Lorge said. “No that’s impossible. That’s not the way it works.”

An immigrant can apply for a work visa but they’re only temporary.

To live here permanently, legally, is actually quite difficult.

First, the U.S. only allows a certain number of people from each country to stay here, regardless of its population.

Then, the application for a green card costs over a thousand dollars.

Many of them are denied.

Plus, if you’re not seeking asylum or have a special case, you have to have a blood relative or have an employer sponsor you.

Not to mention a clean record and good income.

“They say why don’t they get in line? There’s no line for those people,” Lorge said. “You know people who want to work in agriculture or whatever. Or why didn’t they do it like my ancestors did? There is no Ellis Island anymore. It’s a very different situation.”

This may be a reason why we have so many illegal immigrants.

And Lorge says many of them are willing to work tough jobs in the agriculture industry, that lots of American’s won’t do.

But, for Garrison and Sheriff Arnott, that’s not enough.

“Even those moved my sympathy for those trying to avoid a very desperate situation,” Garrison said. “It undermines the rule of law. And it encourages less savory folks to take advantage of that situation.”

“Some people really really are good people, hard-working and they can give so much to this country,” Lorge said.

So what needs to change?

Lorge says immigration reform.

She suggests a new policy, that would allow immigrants to work here permanently if they have a clean record, pay taxes, and not be eligible for government assistance.

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