U.S. Law Center

What are sanctuary cities?

California is particularly susceptible to new changes in immigration law. Approximately 222,800 Dreamers live in the state, and their livelihoods are at risk with a potential repeal of DACA. 

With the changing political landscape, there has been a lot of talk recently about sanctuary cities. The definition classifies these as cities that limit their overall cooperation with the federal government in terms of enforcing immigration law. Sanctuary cities can be a type of safe haven for immigrants who simply want to go to school or earn a living without fear of deportation. Many cities and counties within California are sanctuaries, and there is a lot for immigrants to benefit from. 

Are there exact specifications?

The phrase "sanctuary city" is a bit of an umbrella term. There are not necessarily set guidelines for how sanctuary cities are supposed to operate. For example, San Francisco has laws in place that city resources and funds cannot go toward Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the purpose of enforcing federal immigration laws. It becomes even more confusing because some cities do not directly call themselves "sanctuaries."

These cities do not have any ordinances in place to directly help immigrants. Atlanta, Georgia, considers itself a "welcoming city" that dedicates itself to being open for all, but it lacks real laws to enforce any policies. Ultimately, a sanctuary city is one that obstructs the efforts of ICE. 

What are the threats against sanctuary cities?

The federal government has some threats to throw against these sanctuary cities. Current attorney general Jeff Sessions has long been an outspoken opponent of these cities, and he proposed filing lawsuits against these areas of the country. Another resort the federal government can use is to cut off funding for state departments. While the federal government has not yet taken such actions, it is important for everyone to remain aware and to keep up the good fight.

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