The difference between a welcoming city and a sanctuary city

Updated: Jan. 31, 2017 at 8:31 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The city of Birmingham's adoption of "welcoming city" policies and support of a "sanctuary city" resolution in the city council may create confusion about what it really means.

Sanctuary cities deal with law enforcement issues concerning immigration status.

There are hundreds of cities considered a sanctuary city. The term has no official legal meaning.

A sanctuary city may discourage local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration officials or simply avoid actively involving themselves in immigration enforcement.

A city adopting such a policy may do it through laws or merely through practice.

While Birmingham leaders said the city is not a sanctuary city, Mayor William Bell said, "we will not allow our law enforcement to be an arm of the immigration services of this country."

Many cities have recently adopted "welcoming city" policies.

The position moves beyond law enforcement and addresses all city services including licensing and housing. The focus, advocates said, would be to create inclusive, immigr ant friendly policies.

Mayor Bell said the city would adopt a more inclusive policy for gr anting business licenses, allowing a variety of government-issued forms of identification rather than just an Alabama-issued ID.

Neither the mayor nor city council President Johnathan Austin expected the city's stance to prompt any loss in federal funds.

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