Nearly 10 years after a woman from the Philippines settled in New Jersey, there was a knock on her door.
She had come to Jersey City in part because that’s where immigrants have settled for more than 400 years. It’s a city so synonymous with immigrants that, back in 1996, it declared itself a “sanctuary” for unauthorized US residents.
But on this January morning in 2016, the woman, who spoke with Business Insider on the condition of anonymity, was about to experience the limits of a place declaring itself a sanctuary city.
It was before sunrise. She had just fallen asleep, having come back recently from her job on the overnight shift.
The woman’s sister let two men into their apartment. They were from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and a moment later they were in her bedroom.
“I thought it was just a dream,” the woman told Business Insider.
The agents showed her a photo of herself. There was no denying it. She had been a permanent resident but lost that status after being convicted and serving time for possessing methamphetamines. So they took her away to the local ICE headquarters and then placed her in Hudson County jail, only a few miles from her home.
President Donald Trump’s administration is vowing to crack down on unauthorized immigrants like the woman Business Insider spoke with. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has threatened to withhold federal funding from places like Jersey City that refuse to cooperate with ICE and other authorities enforcing the nation’s immigration laws.
But since Trump’s election, Jersey City, home to an estimated 22,000 unauthorized immigrants, has taken steps to strengthen and codify its sanctuary status, openly defiant of immigration officials. But even then, in many cases it may be powerless to protect immigrants like the woman from the Philippines.
By Rachel Gillet for Business Insider
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