Sanctuary cities are those cities, counties, or states which have policies or laws that limit the extent to which law enforcement or government employees will go to assist the federal government with enforcing immigration laws.1 These policies can take the form of nonbinding resolutions, executive orders, police department policies or orders, or even laws.1 A 1989 San Francisco law passed in 1989, named the City and County of Refuge ordinance, prohibited city employees from helping federal immigration enforcement efforts unless compelled to do so by court order or state law.1
These sanctuary policies and laws came under national scrutiny when 32 year-old Kate Steinle was shot to death on July 1, 2015 by Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a felon who had been deported five times, while she walked along a San Francisco pier with her father. The incident prompted Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly to advocate for a law enforcing mandatory prison sentences for deported felons attempting to return to the United States, named Kate’s Law, and created a firestorm surrounding the immigration debate.
In addition to economic arguments that many essential jobs would go unfilled if undocumented workers did not take those jobs and humanitarian stances which contend the United States has an obligation to provide opportunity to those fleeing depressed and oppressive lands, proponents of sanctuary cities argue that these policies help to keep communities safer by encouraging members of immigrant communities to work with law enforcement to help identify dangerous criminals to law enforcement without fear of deportation. Opponents of sanctuary cities argue on the side of the rule of law, that nobody can pick and choose the laws they follow. Additionally, opponents argue sanctuary city laws and policies offer sanctuary for illegal aliens involved in criminal enterprises, such as drug trafficking and terrorist activities.
In order to compel these areas to enforce current federal laws, opponents of sanctuary city have advocated denying these areas funding for federal programs. However, these measures would also deny federally funded programs to blameless U.S. citizens who pay their federal taxes.
Congressional Record – House
July 22, 2015
Oppose Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act
H.R.6519 — Safeguarding Sanctuary Cities Act of 2016
114th Congress (2015-2016)
Sponsor: Rep. Quigley, Mike [D-IL-5]
Cosponsors: (0) Committees: House - Judiciary, Oversight and Government Reform
Latest Action: 12/22/2016 Referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.
A summary is in progress.
H.R.3002 — Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Act
114th Congress (2015-2016)
Sponsor: Rep. Barletta, Lou [R-PA-11]
Cosponsors: (24) Committees: House - Judiciary, Oversight and Government Reform
Latest Action: 07/29/2015 Referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.
Summary: Prohibits a state or local government from receiving federal financial assistance for a minimum of one year if it restricts or prohibits a government entity or official from:
- Sending to or receiving from the responsible federal immigration agency information regarding an individual's citizenship or immigration status, or
- Maintaining or exchanging information about an individual's status.
Restores assistance eligibility upon a Department of Justice (DOJ) determination that the jurisdiction no longer restricts or prohibits such actions.
Directs DOJ to report each year to Congress regarding state or local jurisdictions that restrict or prohibit such actions.
S.1814 — Stop Sanctuary Cities Act
114th Congress (2015-2016)
Sponsor: Sen. Vitter, David [R-LA]
Cosponsors: (4) Committees: Senate - Judiciary
Latest Action: 07/21/2015 Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.
Summary: This bill makes it unlawful for any state or political subdivision to:
Funding may not be withheld until DHS has:
No liability shall lie with a state or subdivision that is acting in compliance with a lawfully issued DHS detainer solely because the state or subdivision is holding an alien in compliance with such detainer.
Nothing in this Act may be construed to require law enforcement officials of a state or a subdivision to provide DHS with information related to a victim or a witness to a criminal offense.
H.R.6252 — Ending Sanctuary Cities Act of 2016
114th Congress (2015-2016)
Sponsor: Rep. Grothman, Glenn [R-WI-6]
Cosponsors: (0) Committees: House - Judiciary, Oversight and Government Reform, Education and the Workforce
Latest Action: 10/21/2016 Referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.
Summary: This bill provides that a state or local government is an ineligible jurisdiction if it: (1) restricts any government entity or official from sending to or receiving from the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding an individual's citizenship or immigration status, (2) otherwise restricts compliance with a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) detainer, or (3) has any law or policy in effect that violates the immigration laws.
DHS shall annually determine whether each state or local government is an ineligible jurisdiction that may not receive any federal financial assistance for the fiscal year following any fiscal year in which DHS makes such determination.
A state or local government, and any law enforcement officer of such jurisdiction, acting in compliance with a DHS detainer shall be considered to be acting under color of federal authority for purposes of determining liability and immunity from suit in any federal or state civil action brought by an alien.
The Fair Labor Standards Act is amended to make it unlawful for a state or local government to discharge or discriminate against one of its law enforcement officers because such officer has taken any action to comply with a DHS detainer.
See Congress.gov for more legislative action regarding sanctuary cities.
Should federal funding of specified programs be denied to cities, counties, and states which refuse to enforce federal immigration laws or cooperate with federal immigration enforcement agencies?
Since announcing his candidacy for President, President Donald Trump has been one of the most outspoken advocates for ending sanctuary city policies. He has been clear in his stance that he believes sanctuary cities pose a genuine threat to U.S. citizens, often referencing the tragic killing of Kate Steinle while on the campaign trail in 2016.
During a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona on August 31, 2016, President Trump stated that blocking funding for sanctuary cities would be a central part of his immigration reform plan.1 At that rally, Trump stated, "Block funding for sanctuary cities. We block the funding. No more funding… Cities that refuse to cooperate with federal authorities will not receive taxpayer dollars."2 Trump pledged to block federal funding to sanctuary cities within his first 100 days as part of his immigration reform plan.2
8 U.S.C. § 1324 : US Code - Section 1324: Bringing in and Harboring Certain Aliens
Egbuna vs Time-Life Libraries
4th Circuit of Appeals
Decided August 19, 1998
Summary: In a Per Curiam opinion, the Fourth Circuit held that a Nigerian Title VII plaintiff was not qualified for a job because he lacked a valid work visa. At the time he was hired at Time-Life, Egbuna had a valid student work visa issued by the INS. Although the visa expired six months later, Time-Life never noticed and Egbuna remained employed. During this time, Egbuna corroborated allegations of sexual harassment made by his co-worker against a supervisor. Egbuna thereafter voluntarily resigned and intended to return to Nigeria. When Egbuna later reapplied for a job at Time-Life, he did not have a valid work visa and was therefore unauthorized to work under the Immigration Reform and Control Act. The Court refused to allow Egbuna to pursue a Title VII retaliation claim, noting that illegal alien plaintiffs, by statute, could not be considered "qualified" and that to allow such a claim would undermine the enforcement of immigration laws.
Supreme Court of the United States
Arizona Et Al vs United States
Argued April 25, 2012
Decided June 25, 2012
Summary: An Arizona statute known as S. B. 1070 was enacted in 2010 to address pressing issues related to the large number of unlawful aliens in the State. The United States sought to enjoin the law as preempted. The District Court issued a preliminary injunction preventing four of its provisions from taking effect. Section 3 makes failure to comply with federal alien-registration requirements a state misdemeanor; §5(C) makes it a misdemeanor for an unauthorized alien to seek or engage in work in the State; §6 authorizes state and local officers to arrest without a warrant a person “the officer has probable cause to believe. . . has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States”; and §2 (B) requires officers conducting a stop, detention, or arrest to make efforts, in some circumstances, to verify the person’s immigration status with the Federal Government. The Ninth Circuit affirmed, agreeing that the United States had established a likelihood of success on its preemption claims.