Sanctuary Cities & Policies

Sanctuary Cities & Policies


This section of Discover The Networks examines the “sanctuary” policies that many large urban cities (and some small towns) have adopted to protect illegal immigrants from law-enforcement authorities. These policies require city employees to refrain from notifying the federal government that illegal aliens are living in their communities.

Some sanctuary policies are “formal,” in the sense that they are embodied in laws that have been passed by local governments in the form of resolutions, ordinances, or administrative actions. By contrast, “informal” sanctuary policies are not codified anywhere in written form, but are nonetheless carried out by government workers.

Sanctuary policies drew their original inspiration from churches that provided aid to illegal aliens from Central America who had fled from the civil wars that raged in their homelands (Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala) during the 1980s.

The movement experienced a notable growth spurt in the post-9/11 era, as part of the left’s effort to undermine America’s war on terror — in particular the USA PATRIOT Act, which was passed by overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate. As David Horowitz noted in his landmark book Unholy Alliance:  “Directed by organizations like the ACLU, the National Lawyers Guild, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, and People For the American Way, radicals mobilized legislators in [hundreds of] local and state governments to obstruct the enforcement of the [PATRIOT Act] law.” These groups, Horowitz elaborated, were also “fierce opponents of border control and immigration security,” “leaders of the movement to open America’s borders,” and in the vanguard of the effort to “establish rights for illegal immigrants that would blur the distinction between citizens and noncitizens and extend the protections of the Constitution to the latter.”

Today, all of these same groups are among America’s leading supporters of sanctuary policies. The ACLU, for its part, goes so far as to claim that it is actually illegal and “unconstitutional” for local jurisdictions to cooperate with the federal government on the enforcement of immigration laws. On the premise that illegals who are crime victims are less likely to contact law-enforcement if they fear possible deportation, the ACLU characterizes sanctuary policies as “commonsense measures to build community trust and ensure that crime victims cooperate with the police.”

Other key proponents of sanctuary policies include a number of high-profile, pro-amnesty organizations that wield immense political power. The National Council of La Raza, echoing the ACLU, argues that sanctuary policies “foster trust and cooperation between communities and police.” The League of United Latin American Citizens boasts that it is officially “on record in support of sanctuary cities,” and that it “directs [its] staff and local chapters to actively support them.” And the Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund portrays sanctuary policies as measures designed to “defend and promote the civil rights of the Latino community” against “anti-immigrant” forces. All eight of the aforementioned organizations have received financial support from George Soros and his vast left-wing funding empire. In addition, most of these groups have also received grants from the Ford Foundation.

It would be difficult, if not impossible, to name even a single leading Democrat in the United States who opposes sanctuary policies. Hillary Clinton, for instance, made two public statements in support of sanctuary cities during her tenure as a U.S. Senator. Bernie Sanders and then-Senator Barack Obama both voted against an amendment designed to prevent sanctuary cities from receiving federal funds. And in 2015, President Obama vetoed a Senate bill that likewise sought to cut off federal aid to those cities.

Sanctuary policies are enacted for a variety of reasons: to appease illegal-immigration advocacy groups that aggressively lobby local governments on behalf of illegals; to persuade the members of large immigrant communities to contribute as many dollars and votes as possible to those political leaders who support such policies; to encourage illegal aliens who are victims of (or witnesses to) crimes of any kind, to cooperate with police without fear of deportation; to encourage illegals to take advantage of city services such as health care and education; and to act in accordance with a deep-seated, foundational belief that the United States does not have a right to restrict the passage of immigrants across its borders. Indifference to, or ignorance of, the great societal harm that results from illegal immigration also plays a significant role.

But ultimately, what sits at the heart of the Democrats’ support for sanctuary cities is the same thing that undergirds their support for amnesty and open borders: their desire to gain permanent political dominance through the mass importation and eventual legalization of impoverished foreigners who can be counted upon to vote reliably in favor of a bloated, centralized, all-encompassing welfare state.

Moreover, the Census Bureau includes all aliens—legal and illegal—in the statistics that are used to apportion the nation’s 435 congressional districts. Increasing a state’s illegal-alien population is therefore a highly effective way to inflate its representation in Congress (and the number of Electoral College votes it is allotted for presidential elections). As Ian Smith points out in National Review: “Just through their illegal-alien numbers, the states of New York, New Jersey, California, Florida, and Illinois, which all went for Obama in 2012, received eight additional congressional seats in the last reapportionment, with over half of those gains coming from their sanctuary cities and counties.” In terms of their respective illegal-alien populations, these states are five of the top six nationwide. The sixth state is Texas, which, though still majority-Republican, is being aggressively targeted by political activists and open-borders groups that salivate at the prospect of a Lone Star State that is Democratic Blue.

Additional Resources:

Number of Sanctuary Cities Nears 500
By Stephen Dinan
March 14, 2017

List of Sanctuary Cities: What Are They?
By Ohio Jobs and Justice PAC
Updated 2015

Map: Sanctuary Cities, Counties, and States
By Bryan Griffith and Jessica Vaughan
Center For Immigration Studies

The Use and Abuse of the Bible in the Immigration Debate
By James K. Hoffmeier
December 2011

Treason of the Cities
By Arnold Ahlert
July 8, 2015

Sanctuary Cities Releasing 1,000 Criminal Aliens Per Month
By Caroline May
October 8, 2015

Poll: Vast Majority of Americans Oppose Sanctuary Cities
By Rick Moran
February 22, 2017

Subsidizing Sanctuaries: The State Criminal Alien Assistance Program
By Russ Doubleday, Jessica Vaughan
November 2010

Sanctuary Cities: Anatomy of a Disaster
By John Perazzo
March 17, 2016

Maryland Sanctuary County Will Now Allow ICE Access to Jails after Releasing Multiple Illegal Aliens Charged with Rape
By Tobias Hoonhout
November 6, 2019

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