Skip to content

The New 'Digital' Sanctuaries

Cities that were at the forefront of limiting their own participation in aggressive federal immigration enforcement are now expanding the scope of their work: Protecting their residents from data-collection and surveillance, too.
relates to The New 'Digital' Sanctuaries
Madison McVeigh/CityLab

Wilmer Catalan-Ramirez has been awaiting deportation at the McHenry County Jail since seven Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents entered his home in March, and forcefully arrested him—fracturing one of his arms. Catalan-Ramirez, a father of U.S. citizen children, was a high priority for arrest because he was in Chicago police’s gang database. But according to the lawsuit recently filed on his behalf, he was never in a gang.

Many elements of the case remain in dispute, and Catalan-Ramirez had been deported once before. But there’s one factor that’s clear-cut: ICE relied on the city for information crucial to his detention—even in a city like Chicago considered a “sanctuary” because of its restriction on local resources devoted to federal immigration enforcement.