State Sanctuary Policies
Sanctuary Policies Across America
Report by FAIR's State and Local Department | January 2017 | View the PDF ⇣
Cooperation between federal, state, and local governments is the cornerstone of effective immigration enforcement. State and local law enforcement officers are often the last line of defense against criminal aliens, and are far more likely to encounter illegal aliens during routine job activities than are federal agents. As such, the ability of state and local law enforcement and other government officials to freely cooperate and communicate with federal immigration authorities is not just important – but essential – to the enforcement of our immigration laws.
Nonetheless, law enforcement agencies, local governments, and even states across the country are proactively enacting policies and practices to restrict or all together prohibit cooperation with federal immigration authorities. Commonly referred to as “sanctuary policies,” such ordinances, directives, and practices undermine enforcement of U.S. immigration law by impeding state and local officials, including law enforcement officers, from asking individuals about their immigration status, reporting them to the federal government, or otherwise cooperating with or assisting federal immigration officials. While many of these policies and practices are written, they may be unwritten as well, sometimes making them difficult to discover or verify.
Most of the sanctuary policies and practices instituted since FAIR first issued its list of sanctuary jurisdictions in 2013 fall into the “anti-detainer” category. These generally refer to directives that inhibit or restrict the ability of state and local law enforcement to hold criminal aliens for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Some anti-detainer policies even go so far as to prohibit state and local law enforcement from simply notifying ICE that they are about to release a criminal alien back onto the streets or from otherwise assisting federal authorities. Sadly, most anti-detainer policies are put in place by the law enforcement agencies themselves, bullied by the illegal alien lobby into believing they must follow the open borders agenda or risk being sued.
While some of the sanctuary policies noted in this report were enacted decades ago – such as the ones in New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco – the vast majority have been instituted since President Obama took office in 2009. Of the 300 jurisdictions cited in this report:
- 239 jurisdictions have sanctuary policies or practices instituted by law enforcement agencies;
- 23 jurisdictions have sanctuary resolutions;
- 15 jurisdictions have sanctuary laws or ordinances, including statewide laws in California, Connecticut, and Oregon;
- 5 jurisdictions have sanctuary executive orders; and
- 18 jurisdictions either have multiple forms of sanctuary policies or practices in place, or have a policy or practice that simply fit no other classification.
Some of these policies or practices were very easy to discover and label. Others required a bit more digging to locate. As such, FAIR used a wide-variety of sources when compiling this list of jurisdictions and evidence. This included primary sources such as the actual resolutions, ordinances, and policy directives, as well as secondary sources such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Declined Detainer Outcome Report obtained by the Center for Immigration Studies, various academic or congressional reports, and even media coverage.
FAIR has found that jurisdictions often justify their sanctuary policies by claiming that illegal aliens will be more likely to report crimes to law enforcement without fear of deportation. However, FAIR knows of no evidence demonstrating that sanctuary policies lead to increased crime reporting among illegal immigrant communities, and law enforcement officers already have the discretion to grant immunity to witnesses and victims of crime. Sanctuary jurisdictions also often lament that immigration is a “federal issue” and therefore they do not have a responsibility to cooperate with federal officials. This argument is belied by the fact that illegal immigration costs state and local governments roughly $84 billion annually – a significant majority of the estimated $113 billion annual price tag of illegal immigration on U.S. taxpayers. As such, the cost of illegal immigration in terms of government services, education, healthcare, crime, and impact on the labor market are far greater than any benefit that may accrue from a perceived increase in cooperation between illegal alien communities and law enforcement.
Our comprehensive (but by no means exhaustive) list of sanctuary jurisdictions appears below. It includes jurisdictions with laws, resolutions, policies, or practices that obstruct cooperation with federal immigration authorities or assistance with federal immigration detainers. FAIR ceased conducting research activities for this report in November 2016; changes have already been made to the policies and practices in some jurisdictions, while additional sanctuary policies and practices have been instituted in others and will be added in the next edition. Indeed, dozens of city and county officials have doubled-down on their jurisdiction’s sanctuary policy in the days and weeks following the 2016 election. If you believe that your jurisdiction has been included by mistake – or if you think yours should be on this list – please contact our staff at email@example.com.
Use the map below to see the policies in place across the country, or choose a jurisdiction from the menu.