Sanctuary City Issue Heating up at Federal, State Levels

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Sanctuary City Issue Heating up at Federal, State Levels


Cities that have enacted so-called “sanctuary” policies for illegal immigrants are coming under fire by the Trump Administration and politicians at the state level. Will these efforts bring an end to “sanctuary cities” and force these cities to work with the federal government on immigration laws?


Sanctuary cities are localities that do not comply with requests from the federal government concerning illegal immigrants or who do not check the immigration status of individuals arrested within their jurisdiction. As explained in a previous blog post, cities and states are doing nothing illegal when they refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. That does not mean that these local governments can undertake such actions with no repercussions, however.


Even though sanctuary city policies are not violating federal law, they are unpopular with many conservative politicians. Some states have moved to prohibit local governments from enacting such policies. The latest to consider this type of legislation is Michigan. Two bills being considered by legislators in that state would bar sanctuary policies. One bill would require local law enforcement officers to report illegal immigrants to federal immigration authorities, while the other bill would prohibit local governments from enacting policies that restrict communicating or cooperating with federal immigration authorities.


In Virginia, the Republican candidate for governor, Ed Gillespie, has promised that if he is elected he will push for legislation barring local governments in the commonwealth from becoming sanctuary cities.


At the federal level, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently announced that some federal grant money would be withheld from sanctuary cities. According to his statement, “the Department will only provide Byrne JAG grants to cities and states that comply with federal law, allow federal immigration access to detention facilities, and provide 48 hours notice before they release an illegal alien wanted by federal authorities.”


Some cities that have sanctuary policies have vowed to fight this action in court, contending that the attorney general does not have the authority to impose these restrictions.


Do you support state and federal efforts to crack down on sanctuary cities? Or do you think that this issue should be left to a city’s elected officials to decide?


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