You Should Know

The Debate on Sanctuary Cities

By Juliana Kerr

President Trump’s executive order to strip federal funding from cities, counties, and states that have put in place sanctuary policies for immigrants has led to lawsuits and legal disputes over local, state, and federal authority. What are sanctuary cities and can the federal government stop them? Here’s what you should know.

Photo: iStock/NAN104

The Debate on Sanctuary Cities

By Juliana Kerr

President Trump’s executive order to strip federal funding from cities, counties, and states that have put in place sanctuary policies for immigrants has led to lawsuits and legal disputes over local, state, and federal authority. What are sanctuary cities and can the federal government stop them? Here’s what you should know.

Photo: iStock/NAN104

Sanctuary ordinances limit local cooperation with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain, hold, and deport unauthorized immigrants solely based on immigration status or ICE warrants or detainer requests.

Sanctuary ordinances limit local cooperation with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain, hold, and deport unauthorized immigrants solely based on immigration status or ICE warrants or detainer requests.

Photo: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

More than 300 US localities have “sanctuary city” ordinances. They argue the 10th Amendment restricts the federal government’s ability to commandeer state and local governments to enforce federal laws.

More than 300 US localities have “sanctuary city” ordinances. They argue the 10th Amendment restricts the federal government’s ability to commandeer state and local governments to enforce federal laws.

Photo: iStock/CastaldoStudio

The Trump Administration and the US Department of Justice argue that local cooperation is essential for effective immigration enforcement and that sanctuary ordinances have forced ICE to use more disruptive and aggressive tactics.

The Trump Administration and the US Department of Justice argue that local cooperation is essential for effective immigration enforcement and that sanctuary ordinances have forced ICE to use more disruptive and aggressive tactics.

Photo: REUTERS/Mike Blake

Chicago, a sanctuary city since 1985, won a nationwide federal court injunction last year against the US Department of Justice, which threatened to withhold millions of federal dollars in public safety grants from cities with sanctuary ordinances.

Chicago, a sanctuary city since 1985, won a nationwide federal court injunction last year against the US Department of Justice, which threatened to withhold millions of federal dollars in public safety grants from cities with sanctuary ordinances.

Photo: REUTERS/Joshua Lott

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision, but the Trump administration has requested they rethink the scope of the injunction. In the meantime, Homeland Security has authorized $1.7 billion in grants, some of which went to sanctuary cities.

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision, but the Trump administration has requested they rethink the scope of the injunction. In the meantime, Homeland Security has authorized $1.7 billion in grants, some of which went to sanctuary cities.

Photo: REUTERS/Leah Millis

So far, no sanctuary jurisdictions have been found to be violating any federal law, but some cases challenging sanctuary ordinances are still pending.

So far, no sanctuary jurisdictions have been found to be violating any federal law, but some cases challenging sanctuary ordinances are still pending.

Photo: REUTERS/Jim Bourg

The crux of the issue lies in the distinction between local law enforcement authority and federal immigration authority. Lacking proper immigration documentation is a civil offense, not criminal, and is enforced by the federal government, not local officials.

The crux of the issue lies in the distinction between local law enforcement authority and federal immigration authority. Lacking proper immigration documentation is a civil offense, not criminal, and is enforced by the federal government, not local officials.

Photo: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Courts have consistently ruled that local detention of an individual solely based on ICE detainer requests in the absence of criminal charges is a violation of constitutional rights – rights that extend to everyone in the country, not just citizens.

Courts have consistently ruled that local detention of an individual solely based on ICE detainer requests in the absence of criminal charges is a violation of constitutional rights – rights that extend to everyone in the country, not just citizens.

Photo: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Some law enforcement officials argue that detaining unauthorized immigrants solely based on their status makes them less likely to report crimes for fear of being deported, increases racial profiling, destroys public trust, and strains already limited resources.

Some law enforcement officials argue that detaining unauthorized immigrants solely based on their status makes them less likely to report crimes for fear of being deported, increases racial profiling, destroys public trust, and strains already limited resources.

Photo: REUTERS/Joshua Lott

Critics argue that sanctuary policies interfere with federal immigration enforcement, and claim that dangerous criminals are being protected, risk public safety, and are rewarded despite having broken the law by circumventing the country’s legal immigration system.

Critics argue that sanctuary policies interfere with federal immigration enforcement, and claim that dangerous criminals are being protected, risk public safety, and are rewarded despite having broken the law by circumventing the country’s legal immigration system.

Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Sanctuary jurisdictions continue to arrest and prosecute unauthorized and authorized immigrants who commit crimes, and cannot prevent ICE from operating within the local jurisdiction.

Sanctuary jurisdictions continue to arrest and prosecute unauthorized and authorized immigrants who commit crimes, and cannot prevent ICE from operating within the local jurisdiction.

Photo: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Cities that want to cooperate with ICE are revisiting the 287(g) program, a formal agreement that deputizes local law enforcement officers to perform functions of federal immigration agents.

Cities that want to cooperate with ICE are revisiting the 287(g) program, a formal agreement that deputizes local law enforcement officers to perform functions of federal immigration agents.

Photo: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Chicago Mayor Emanuel and several other mayors of major US cities such as Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle have vowed to keep their sanctuary ordinances.

Chicago Mayor Emanuel and several other mayors of major US cities such as Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle have vowed to keep their sanctuary ordinances.

Photo: REUTERS/Monica Almeida

This is one of many examples of cities actively influencing policies of national and global consequence.

To learn more about how cities shape our world, check out the Council’s research and events on global cities.

This is one of many examples of cities actively influencing policies of national and global consequence.

To learn more about how cities shape our world, check out the Council’s research and events on global cities.

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