“Sanctuary” Policies: An Overview

Report Author: 
American Immigration Council
Original Date of Publication: 
February, 2017

“Sanctuary” Policies: An Overview

Although there is no one definition of "sanctuary policies," they cover a variety of laws or guidelines that limit the participation of state or local governments in federal immigration law enforcement. This brief from the American Immigration Council clarifies what jurisdictions with sanctuary policies can and cannot do, without running afoul of federal law or compromising their law enforcement function. For example, sanctuary cities or states can share information with ICE-such as sending fingerprints from police databases-but cannot stop residents from being deported by ICE. Sanctuary jurisdictions can (but are not required to) honor detainer requests from ICE in order to arrange pick up, but they cannot require their police departments to ask residents about their immigration status. In no way do sanctuary policies limit the ability of police to enforce all criminal laws against immigrants who commit crimes. The brief also notes that sanctuary policies comply with federal law, referencing a 2016 finding by the U.S. Department of Justice that no state or locality with sanctuary policies had violated federal statute. The benefits of sanctuary policies, the brief suggests, include lower rates of crime, poverty and unemployment. (Deb D'Anastasio for The ILC Public Education Institute)


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American Immigration Council. “Sanctuary” Policies: An Overview. Washington, DC. Available here:https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/sites/default/files/research/...

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