Top 10 National Policy Issues

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.

1What's a 'Sanctuary City,' and Why Should You Care?

Issue Topic

Sanctuary Cities

Polling question

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?

Yes, Strongly Agree
Yes, Agree
Neutral / No opinion
No, Disagree
No, Strongly Disagree

National results

Total Middle School and High School Respondents: 3

Total Voting Age Respondents: 22

Issue Poll Summary:

Political followings



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