Place of refuge? - Page 2

Just Like Us is a story for Colorado and SF

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Thorp feels that heated debates between advocates on opposing sides of the immigration equation is a result of what she calls "a collision of different beliefs."

"We believe strongly that you are innocent until proven guilty, and we believe in the United States as a nation founded by immigrants. But we also believe in the value of law and order, so we don't have a favorable view of illegal immigrants, and definitely not of illegal immigrants who commit crimes," Thorp observes. She also noted that people tend to view juvenile immigrants in a kinder light: "They are morally in a different category than people who made the decision to come here without documents."

But Thorp suggests that tackling immigration locally may be a losing proposition. "I understand why people want to tackle the subject at a local level since the federal government continues not to resolve the issue," she says. "But you run into the fact that, peculiarly, this issue needs a federal solution even though we feel the impacts at the local level." She believes the Obama administration needs to create reform that clarifies whether the feds are offering people a path to citizenship and that involves penalties for those who knowingly broke the law when they came here without papers,

"I understand that San Francisco is on the cutting edge of many things, but I can't imagine that my husband, as mayor, would adopt a sanctuary policy in Denver," she says. "And that's because the concept of a sanctuary city in Colorado is only used by social conservatives with derision. The way 'sanctuary city' is used here signals a flagrant disrespect for law and order."

That said, Thorp notes that the question of whether local police should become an arm of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and an enforcer of federal immigration laws has been debated, and that people generally agree that this is not the job of the local police. "Local police department budgets are exhausted simply by doing the other tasks we've given them. If you add to that locking up nonviolent offenders [accused of being here illegally], it would break the bank."