As one group protests 'sanctuary city,' another holds vigil to support undocumented immigrants

'We're not criminals'

CINCINNATI -- “Chief Eliot Isaac uphold the law!”

A group gathered outside District 1 Police Headquarters Saturday afternoon to protest Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac’s statement that police "will not be enforcing immigration laws” after Mayor John Cranley declared Cincinnati a “sanctuary city” Jan. 30. 

Michael Connaughton, a demonstrator, believes everyone in the U.S. should have to abide by the law. For that reason, he said, Cincinnati should not be a sanctuary city. 

"It's still a symbol of disobedience,” Connaughton said.

Legally, “sanctuary city” doesn’t have a definition, but it usually means that that local law enforcement agencies will not turn over individuals to Immigration and Customs Enforcement solely because they entered the country illegally.

Cincinnati police do cooperate with federal immigration officials, though they're told not to target or arrest people simply because they might be undocumented.

RELATED: Is Cincinnati a ‘sanctuary city?’ Maybe not

Hours after the demonstration outside District 1, San Carlos Parish held a candlelight vigil in Carthage to support undocumented immigrants.

Vigil organizer Maria Cabrera said she came to America because she had no choice.

"We're not criminals,” Cabrera said. “We came here to work hard and move our families forward."

She said she crossed the border because her family was on the verge of starvation.

"We had to leave our country to find a better life, not because we wanted to leave our home and our family -- because we were leaving poverty,” Cabrera said. “There were times when we didn't have enough to eat."

But those who protested undocumented immigrants Saturday said they aren’t against immigration, and they support those who come to the U.S. legally.

"We've always been a nation of immigrants, and we still are,” Connaughton said.

Carolyn McCabe attended the candlelight vigil to support undocumented immigrants although she's not a member of the church. 

"(I’m) fearful that they could be separated and they have so much to lose, and we have so much to offer,” McCabe said.

But Jeremiah York, who organized the demonstration against undocumented immigrants, said it’s dangerous to let people into the country without a vetting process.

“It's a slap in the face to legal immigrants who came here and went through that process,” York said.

Others, like Joe Wyman, feel the system fails those in need.

"What do we do now? Yes there should be a better legal system to come to the United States, but it hasn't been there,” Wyman said.

Web Editor Joe Rosemeyer contributed to this report. 

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