3/5/20 – Sanctuary Cities: Top 3 Pros and Cons

Pro 1

Sanctuary cities are safer because they encourage good relationships between undocumented immigrants and law enforcement. 70% of undocumented immigrants and 44% of Latinos surveyed are less likely to report if they were the victim of crime and 45% of Latinos are less likely report crimes or voluntarily offer information about a crime for fear police officers would about their immigration status. [15][16] Zoe Lofgren, US Representative (D-CA), stated, “when people are afraid the police might ask about immigration status, they are less likely to report crimes and cooperate with investigations. As a result, criminals thrive, and the general public suffers.” [19] Josh Harkinson of Mother Jones says undocumented immigrant cooperation with police is statistically proven to make sanctuary cities safer. [15] Murder rates in San Francisco, one of the oldest sanctuary cities, were at their lowest in 2014 (with 45 murders) since the 1989 “City of Refuge” ordinance was enacted. [15] San Francisco’s murder rate is lower than comparable non-sanctuary cities, with 5.75 murders per 100,000 residents in 2013 compared to 11.39 in Dallas and 15.17 in Indianapolis. [15]

Con 1

Sanctuary cities harbor criminals, creating a dangerous environment for US citizens. Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant, had seven felony convictions in the United States and had been deported from the country five times. Yet, the city of San Francisco declined to detain him for Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officials (ICE) officials and released him into the community. In July 2015, Lopez-Sanchez was charged with murdering Katie Steinle in San Francisco. [8][9] Of 8,145 undocumented immigrants released from detention requests between Jan. 1, 2014 and Aug. 31, 2014, 5,132 (63%) had previous criminal convictions or were marked a public safety concern; 2,984 (36.6%) had felony charges or convictions; 1,909 (23.4%) had misdemeanor convictions or charges related to violence, assault, sexual abuse, weapons, or drug distribution; and 239 (2.9%) had three or more misdemeanor convictions. [18]

Pro 2

Sanctuary policies are legal and protected by the Tenth Amendment. The Tenth Amendment of the US Constitution provides for the separation of federal and state powers. According to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, the Amendment prevents the “federal government from coercing state or local governments to use their resources to enforce a federal regulatory program, like immigration,” and, thus, Congress cannot compel state or local governments to collect immigration status information in order to share it with the federal government. [4][7] Because the data are never collected due to “don’t ask, don’t tell” policies, the local and state governments are not in violation of federal law. [4]

Con 2

Sanctuary policies defy federal laws to which state and local governments are bound. 8 U.S. Code § 1373 states that “a Federal, State, or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.” [5] The Department of Justice requires that most recipients of federal grant money certify their compliance with all federal laws. [4][6] Sanctuary cities, by not asking about, recording, and submitting to the federal government the immigration statuses of residents, are violating federal law and the rules for getting federal grant money.
Pro 3

Sanctuary cities are needed to protect undocumented immigrants against federal immigration laws. Many people state that the federal immigration deportation policies are unjust because they target undocumented immigrants indiscriminately, deport people who have lived in the United States since childhood, deport people who have committed no crimes, separate families, and cause people to live in constant fear of deportation and its devastating consequences. Libby Schaaf, Mayor of Oakland, CA, said, “I like to compare this to conscientious objector status. We are not going to use our resources to enforce what we believe are unjust immigration laws.” [11]

Con 3

Sanctuary policies prevent local and state police officers from doing their jobs. Sanctuary policies prevent police from investigating, questioning, and arresting people who have broken federal immigration law. Many crimes, violent and otherwise, could be prevented if local law enforcement in sanctuary cities could arrest undocumented immigrants for their first crime on US soil—illegal entry into the country—and turn them over to federal law enforcement. [14] According to Heather Mac Donald, JD, Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, many Salvadorian gang members living in Los Angeles entered the United States illegally, but because of sanctuary policies, LA police officers cannot arrest the undocumented immigrants for illegal entry. Instead, law enforcement has to wait for a second crime to be committed to get the criminals off the street. [14]

New York City, a sanctuary city
Source: Ivan2010, “Manhattan, New York City,” Wikipedia.org, Aug. 14, 2015



  1. Peter Mancina, “In the Spirit of Sanctuary: Sanctuary-City Policy Advocacy and the Production of Sanctuary-Power in San Francisco, California,” vanderbilt.edu, Aug. 2016
  2. Matthew Green and Jessica Carlton, “What Are Sanctuary Cities and How Are They Bracing for Trump’s Proposed Immigration Crackdown?,” kqed.org, Nov. 17, 2016
  3. Jasmine C. Lee, Rudy Omri, and Julia Preston, “What Are Sanctuary Cities?,” nytimes.com, Sep. 3, 2016
  4. Immigrant Legal Resource Center, “FAQ on Federal Grant Conditions and Cooperation with Immigration Enforcement,” ilrc.org, July 2016
  5. Legal Information Institute, “U.S. Code, Title 8, Chapter 12, Subchapter II, Part IX, § 1373,” law.cornell.edu (accessed Nov. 25, 2016)
  6. Bureau of Justice Assistance, “Office of Justice Programs Guidance Regarding Compliance with 8 U.S.C. § 1373,” bja.gov (accessed Nov. 25, 2016)
  7. Michael John Garcia, “‘Sanctuary Cities’: Legal Issues,” ilw.com, Jan. 15, 2009
  8. Christina Littlefield, “Sanctuary Cities: How Kathryn Steinle’s Death Intensified the Immigration Debate,” latimes.com, July 24, 2015
  9. Lee Romney, Cindy Chang, and Joel Rubin, “Fatal Shooting of S.F. Woman Reveals Disconnect between ICE, Local Police; 5-Time Deportee Charged,” latimes.com, July 6, 2015
  10. Janie Har and Amy Taxin, “San Francisco’s Status as ‘Sanctuary’ Criticized after Slaying,” ap.org, July 7, 2015
  11. Jennifer Medina and Jess Bidgood, “Cities Vow to Fight Trump on Immigration, Even If They Lose Millions,” nytimes.com, Nov. 28, 2016
  12. Daryl F. Gates, “Special Order No. 40,” lapdonline.org, Nov. 27, 1979
  13. Jessica Vaughan, “Sanctuary Cities Continue to Obstruct Enforcement, Threaten Public Safety,” cis.org, Aug. 31, 2016
  14. Heather Mac Donald, “The Illegal-Alien Crime Wave,” city-journal.org, Winter 2004
  15. Josh Harkinson, “Actually, Sanctuary Cities Are Safer,” motherjones.com, July 10, 2015
  16. Nik Theodore, “Insecure Communities: Latino Perceptions of Police Involvement in Immigration Enforcement,” policylink.org, May 2013
  17. Bettina Boxall, “Violent Crime in California Rose 10% in 2015, State Attorney General Says,” latimes.com, July 1, 2016
  18. Jessica Vaughan, “Ignoring Detainers, Endangering Communities,” cis.org, July 2015
  19. Zoe Lofgren, “Sanctuary Cities Keep Communities Safe,” usnews.com, July 28, 2015
  20. Bryan Griffith and Jessica M. Vaughan, “Maps: Sanctuary Cities, Counties, and States,” cis.org, Apr. 16, 2019
  21. Catherine E. Shoichet, “Florida Just Banned Sanctuary Cities. At Least 11 Other States Have, Too,” cnn.com, June 14, 2019
  22. Brett Samuels, “Trump: Government Will Start Withholding Funds from Sanctuary Cities after Court Ruling,” thehill.com, Mar. 5, 2020
  23. Bryan Griffith and Jessica M. Vaughan, “Map: Sanctuary Cities, Counties, and States,” cis.org, Feb. 5, 2020
  24. Max Sullivan, “NH Rep. Wants to Ban Sanctuary Cities. He Put the Question on WHS School Ballot, “seacoastonline.com, Feb. 13, 2020
  25. KJRH News, “Bill Filed to Ban Sanctuary Cities in Oklahoma,” kjrh.com, Jan. 15, 2020
  26. Joshua Nelson, “Georgia Republicans Push Bill to Ban Sanctuary Cities: The President Is 100% Right,” foxnews.com, Feb. 25, 2020