Published December 10, 2021 / Updated December 13, 2021


We may not hear as much about Sanctuary Cities in the daily news as we did just a couple of years ago; however, they remain an important component of our immigration policies at the state level.

by Susan E. Stutz

A painting of a woman and a cat sleeping peacefully near a pond with lily pads and flowers.

Sanctuary by Tone Aanderaa

People have been moving around the world since our ancestors migrated out of Africa and they have moved around the globe for one reason or another for tens of thousands of years. While the United States is only one of the hundreds of countries worldwide, it has been an immigration destination for centuries. People have come here in search of a better life through economic and academic opportunities and a life free from religious persecution. They have come to reap the benefits of the land of milk and honey. They came looking for a safe harbor from the dangers they face in their homelands. They have come looking for a sanctuary of one kind or another.

In 1971, the city of Berkeley, California became the first official sanctuary city offering protection to individuals who opposed the Vietnam War. The City entered into agreements with various city officials and departments wherein it was agreed that Berkeley would not assist in enforcing federal law and rounding up or detaining detractors of the war. Since then, many of us had never heard of a sanctuary city much less understood its importance. Enter Trump.

Immediately following the 2016 election, immigration and immigrants became the focus of an administration that saw the boogeyman in every brown and black face. They have labeled them as criminals (completely ignoring the fact that those presumptions are rooted in racism), and falsely accused them of taking food off the table of hard-working ‘mericans by taking their jobs.  Within five days of taking office, Trump signed Executive Order 13768 which stated, among other things, that any city that refused to cooperate with the federal government regarding immigration, would be barred from obtaining federal funds. In order to keep tabs on the sanctuary cities, Section 9 of the Order required the Secretary of the Interior to create and maintain a Declined Detainer Outcome Report. Within days, the first of several lawsuits were filed by San Francisco against the administration specifically targeting Section 9 of the Order. In August 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth District determined that the power regarding funding to states and cities lies with Congress, not the Executive. A permanent injunction was entered barring the implementation and enforcement of section 9. And, while we may not hear as much about Sanctuary Cities in the daily news as we did just a couple of years ago, they remain an important component of our immigration policies at the state level.

There is no one universal definition of what constitutes a sanctuary city; however, the following is a list of some of the common policies found in the hundreds of sanctuary cities and counties across 11 states:

  • policies restricting the ability of state and local police to make arrests for federal immigration violations, or to detain individuals on civil immigration warrants;
  • policies prohibiting “287(g)” agreements through which ICE deputizes local law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration law;
  • policies that prevent local governments from entering into a contract with the federal government to hold immigrants in detention;
  • policies preventing immigration detention centers;
  • policies restricting the police or other city workers from asking about immigration status;
  • policies restricting the sharing of certain information on immigrants with the federal government;
  • policies restricting local police responses to federal immigration detainers; and
  • policies refusing to allow ICE into local jails without a judicial warrant.

Immigration is a highly charged topic no matter who lives in the White House. And, just because Trump is gone and Biden is now our president, it does not mean smooth sailing for immigrants or immigration policies.  In fact, the Biden administration has been ordered by a federal judge to restart the MPP program and the crisis at our borders remains troubled, to say the least.

When we say that we are a country of immigrants, it is not a sound bite, it is the truth. Most of us are the children of generations shepherded by those who came from other countries to the United States searching for better opportunities for themselves and their families. And, saying that some have come to this country the “right way,” while others have not is a form of gatekeeping only intended to informally bar people from immigrating. Those that come to America do so for a reason and no matter what that reason may be, at its core is the hope that here will be better than there.

Join us Sunday, December 12 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time on Resistbot Live as we take the opportunity to listen and learn from Jennifer Amuzie with Sanctuary DMV.

You can also send SIGN PXCALC to add your name to the petition created by Doctors for Camp Closure and encourage President Biden to Fulfill Immigration Justice.

Send presidentContact the President to 50409 to urge President Biden to reverse the inhumane executive decisions by his predecessors.

Thank you to Elena and Chris E.

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