Becoming sanctuary cities being discussed in Saskatoon and Regina, but what does that mean?

The director for the graduate program in Immigration and Settlement studies at Ryerson University says becoming a sanctuary city is a commitment by city council.

Talks starting about making commitment in Saskatchewan cities

Hundreds of people showed their support for refugees and immigrants at a vigil in Saskatoon following the deadly shooting at a mosque in Quebec City. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC)

The conversation has begun in both Regina and Saskatoon of whether to become sanctuary cities.

Discussions began following an executive order signed by President Donald Trump which imposed a 120-day ban on refugees entering the U.S. and a 90-day ban on all entry to the U.S. for those from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

​Harald Bauder, director for the graduate program in Immigration and Settlement studies at Ryerson University, told CBC Radio's Afternoon Edition that Toronto became Canada's first sanctuary city in 2013.

Bauder calls it a commitment by a municipality.

"[Municipalies say] our role is not to enforce federal immigration policy and make sure that people that don't have federal status might be detained and deported."

In Toronto's case, the city adopted a don't ask, don't tell policy; this meant that the city and city-supported services didn't report undocumented people.

Bauder said a policy like that doesn't go against the law, it just doesn't support the federal government in enforcing certain immigration policies.

Making the commitment as a sanctuary city also ensures that all people have access to policing and health services. Bauder said it can be difficult, though, when it comes to policing as police services are meant to report some cases.

Speaking to the Afternoon Edition on Thursday, Regina city coun. Andrew Stevens spoke about the possibility of the Queen City becoming a sanctuary city.

"I would invite community members to start talking about this and figuring out how we can be a safe place for workers who might find themselves new to Saskatchewan, but also if they've lost status and are undocumented."

In Saskatoon, a community meeting being held Monday will discuss the idea for the Bridge City as well.

According to Bauder, becoming a sanctuary city takes a commitment by city council and the introduction of policies to support it. Steps must also be taken to ensure front-line workers know about those policies.

Bauder explained that some people have said taking these steps creates a false sense of security.

"On the other hand, it does have tangible effects beyond the symbolism if people don't have to be afraid anymore," he said.

With files from CBC's Afternoon Edition