Last updated on: 3/15/2018 | Author:

Are Sanctuary Jurisdictions Good Policy?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

Sarah Herman Peck, JD, Legislative Attorney at the Congressional Research Service (CRS), in a Mar. 23, 2017 report, “State and Local ‘Sanctuary’ Policies Limiting Participation in Immigration Enforcement,” available at, stated:

“The federal government is vested with the exclusive power to create rules governing which aliens may enter the United States and which aliens may be removed. However, the impact of alien migration—whether lawful or unlawful—is arguably felt most directly in the communities where aliens reside. State and local responses to unlawfully present aliens within their jurisdictions have varied considerably, particularly as to the role that state and local police should play in enforcing federal immigration law. While some states and municipalities actively participate in or cooperate with federal immigration enforcement efforts, others have actively opposed federal immigration authorities’ efforts to identify and remove certain unlawfully present aliens within their jurisdictions. Entities that have adopted such policies are sometimes referred to as ‘sanctuary’ jurisdictions. There is no official, formal, or agreed-upon definition of what constitutes a ‘sanctuary’ jurisdiction, and there has been debate as to whether the term applies to particular states and localities. Moreover, state and local jurisdictions might have varied reasons for opting not to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement efforts, including for reasons not necessarily motivated by disagreement with federal policies, such as concern about potential civil liability or the costs associated with assisting federal efforts.

Having said that, traditional sanctuary policies are often described as falling under one of three categories. First, so-called ‘don’t enforce’ policies generally bar the state or local police from assisting federal immigration authorities. Second, ‘don’t ask’ policies generally bar certain state or local officials from inquiring into a person’s immigration status. Third, ‘don’t tell’ policies typically restrict information sharing between state or local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities.”

Mar. 23, 2017 - Sarah Herman Peck, JD

PRO (yes)


Jose Antonio Vargas, Founder and CEO of Define America, in an Apr. 7, 2017 article, “4 Voices: Are Sanctuary Cities Good for the Community?,” available at, stated:

“Sanctuary cities are good for everyone, documented and undocumented. A community that promises to protect all of its members thrives…

Undocumented people are just like everyone else: We want to work hard, support our families and pursue life, liberty and happiness. When we are witnesses to actual crimes, such as domestic abuse or robbery, we want to be able to report it without fearing deportation. Undocumented immigrants are very often victims of crime and extreme exploitation too — especially when perpetrators know they can’t ask for help.

Without the assurance of sanctuary city policies, undocumented people will be less likely to report crime, which makes our cities less safe for everyone… When cities, counties and even states put sanctuary statutes in place, they’re taking the pressure off local law enforcement to aid in the inhumane practice of rounding up people. As a result, communities have officers with smaller burdens and community members who are more engaged. Sanctuary cities mean stronger communities.”

Apr. 7, 2017 - Jose Antonio Vargas


Erwin Chemerinsky, JD, Dean and Professor of Law, Annie Lai, JD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Law and Codirector of the Immigrants Rights Clinic, and Seth Davis, JD, MSc, Assistant Professor of Law, all of the University of California Irvine, in a Dec. 22, 2016 article, “Trump Can’t Force ‘Sanctuary Cities’ to Enforce His Deportation Plans,” available at, stated:

“[S]anctuary policies might, among other things, commit a city to serving all individuals without regard to immigration status, protect the privacy of community members by keeping their immigration status confidential, or direct law enforcement officers not to investigate, arrest or hold people solely on the basis of immigration status.

Sanctuary policies are an exercise of basic state and local powers to regulate for the health, safety and welfare of their residents. Some entities have acted out of a moral objection to mass deportations, but that is rarely the only motivation. Many local leaders recognize that sanctuary policies are vital to preserving police-community relations and ensuring that residents feel safe reporting crimes and accessing basic government services. Still others are responding to the risk that collaboration with federal immigration officials could lead to racial profiling and civil liberties violations. Public schools and universities have voiced concern that more aggressive immigration enforcement will jeopardize student safety and interfere with their schools’ educational missions.”

Dec. 22, 2016 - Annie Lai, JD Seth Davis, JD, MSc Erwin Chemerinsky, JD


Dennis Herrera, JD, City Attorney of San Francisco, in an Apr. 7, 2017 article, “4 Voices: Are Sanctuary Cities Good for the Community?,” available at, stated:

“There is a reason more than 600 cities and counties across our country have some type of sanctuary policy: They work.

We’re all better off when everyone, regardless of how they came to this country, is willing to report a crime, enroll their children in school and access vaccines.

There is no legal definition of a sanctuary jurisdiction, but generally, it refers to a city or county that chooses to focus its resources on local priorities. Immigration enforcement is the federal government’s job. Public safety is local government’s job… If someone is too afraid to report that they’ve been raped or robbed because they fear deportation, then a criminal goes free. Everyone is less safe. That’s what happens when President Trump tries to force local police to become deportation agents.”

Apr. 7, 2017 - Dennis Herrera, JD


Seth M. Stodder, JD, former Assistant Secretary for Border, Immigration, and Trade Policy for the Department of Homeland Security, in a Mar. 31, 2017 article, “Why I Changed My Mind on ‘Sanctuary Cities,'” available at, stated:

“Given Trump’s radical new immigration policies, I now strongly back the sanctuary states and cities. It’s one thing to seek cooperation from local police departments in removing undocumented felons—that was the Obama policy. But it’s another to bully cities and states into a large roundup of otherwise law-abiding undocumented immigrants—and that’s exactly what Trump has proposed. That I cannot support…

I come from Los Angeles, where undocumented immigrants constitute over 10 percent of the entire population of LA County. For the most part, these people are law-abiding, productive members of our communities, contributing much to LA’s boundless dynamism, diversity and culture… In other words, the undocumented population of LA County has deep roots in the community. Rounding up thousands of these people would cause great social distress…

Beyond that, states and cities have a good reason to become sanctuaries while Trump occupies the West Wing: It improves public safety. If local law enforcement were to join the Trump administration in a broad roundup of the undocumented population, it would only drive people underground, making them reluctant to cooperate with the police, report crimes, or serve as witnesses for fear of being deported. This is why many big city law enforcement agencies took their officers out of the business of immigration enforcement, including the LAPD in 1979.”

Mar. 31, 2017 - Seth M. Stodder, JD


Tom K. Wong, PhD, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of California at San Diego, in a Jan. 26, 2017 article, “The Effects of Sanctuary Policies on Crime and the Economy,” available at, stated:

“Crime is lower and economies are stronger in sanctuary counties compared to nonsanctuary counties. The data support arguments made by law enforcement executives that communities are safer when law enforcement agencies do not become entangled in federal immigration enforcement efforts. The data also make clear that, when counties protect all of their residents, they see significant economic gains. By keeping out of federal immigration enforcement, sanctuary counties are keeping families together—and when households remain intact and individuals can continue contributing, this strengthens local economies. These effects appear particularly pronounced in smaller counties, as removing one person from the economy of a small population has a larger effect than removing one person from the economy of a large population.”

Jan. 26, 2017 - Tom K. Wong, PhD

CON (no)


Donald J. Trump, 45th US President, in a Jan. 25, 2017 executive order, “Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” available at, stated:

“Sanctuary jurisdictions across the United States willfully violate Federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States. These jurisdictions have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic.

Tens of thousands of removable aliens have been released into communities across the country, solely because their home countries refuse to accept their repatriation. Many of these aliens are criminals who have served time in our Federal, State, and local jails. The presence of such individuals in the United States, and the practices of foreign nations that refuse the repatriation of their nationals, are contrary to the national interest.”

Jan. 25, 2017 - Donald J. Trump


Jeff Sessions, JD, US Attorney General, in an Apr. 7, 2017 article, “‘Sanctuary City’ Policies Harm Public Safety and the Rule of Law,” available at, stated:

“As the attorney general of the United States, I have a duty to protect public safety and uphold our nation’s rule of law. ‘Sanctuary city’ policies harm both.

These policies take different forms. Some jurisdictions have explicit laws in place. In others, political leaders have declared they will not turn over criminal aliens in their jails to federal agents for lawful deportation or even notify federal agents that they have made an arrest — preferring instead to release aliens who have committed crimes such as domestic violence, child abuse and rape back into their communities. Others are less blatant, simply refusing to honor Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests. No matter what form these policies take, they all have the same effect: They harm public safety, by putting numerous criminal aliens back on our streets. They also undermine the rule of law, by signaling that our nation’s immigration laws — laws passed by our representatives to serve our national interest — can be willfully ignored.

Supporters say ‘sanctuary’ policies help fight crime by encouraging illegal immigrants to report crimes without fear of deportation. But how can we fight crime by allowing criminal aliens whom the law requires to be deported to stay in our country? And how does it promote the rule of law when our citizens see their leaders disregard the law?”

Apr. 7, 2017 - Jeff Sessions, JD


John Culberson, JD, US Representative in an Apr. 7, 2017 article, “4 Voices: Are Sanctuary Cities Good for the Community?,” available at, stated:

“Federal law requires local and state authorities to share information regarding criminal illegal aliens in custody with federal immigration authorities 100 percent of the time. A sanctuary city fails to fully share information with immigration enforcement agencies. These sanctuary policies violate a federal law enacted in 1996 to ensure total cooperation between local, state and federal agencies…

The local authorities have a choice; protect criminal illegal aliens that endanger their citizens or receive federal money. They can no longer do both.

We’ve seen the tragic results of sanctuary policies time and time again. Living in the United States is a privilege, and when you enter the country illegally and commit a crime, that privilege should be revoked.”

Apr. 7, 2017 - John Culberson, JD


The National Review Editorial Board, in a Mar. 29, 2017 article, “Reining in Sanctuary Cities,” available at, stated:

“The Obama administration encouraged sanctuary cities, and President Trump is right to push in the opposite direction. The more than 300 sanctuary jurisdictions across the country release thousands of illegal immigrants subject to deportation back onto the streets every year, at a risk to public safety. Recall that the illegal immigrant who killed Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco in 2015 had seven felony convictions and had been deported five times previously; at the time of the killing, he was facing a sixth deportation order. Even as Democrats at all levels of government declare their support for deporting known criminals, sanctuary-city policies keep those individuals out of the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

More fundamentally, it is impossible to have a truly effective regime of interior enforcement if localities aren’t willing to cooperate with the federal government even when it comes to illegal immigrants who have been arrested for committing crimes.”

Mar. 29, 2017 - National Review Editorial Board


The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), in a Jan. 2016 report, “The Role of State & Local Law Enforcement in Immigration Matters and Reasons to Resist Sanctuary Policies,” available at, stated:

“Regardless of how they are enacted or what form they take, sanctuary policies place a greater emphasis on the interests and welfare of criminal aliens than citizens and legal residents. Implementing sanctuary policies is not only reckless to the safety of residents in a community, but in many cases, also constitutes a breach of obligations to the constituents public officials swore to protect when taking office. Rather than obstruct the enforcement of federal law, law enforcement should work cooperatively with the federal government to ensure a uniform system of law that protects public safety…

Sanctuary and other non-cooperation policies are harmful as they exacerbate national security threats, encourage illegal immigration, waste law enforcement and other taxpayer funded resources, and most importantly, put the public at risk by allowing known criminal aliens to be released back onto the streets. State and local lawmakers should consider enacting legislation to prohibit sanctuary policies in their communities and require cooperation with federal authorities.”

Jan. 2016 - Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)