Looking Past the Label: An Analysis of the Measures Underlying ‘Sanctuary Cities'

James Rice
Date of Publication: 
January, 2018
Source Organization: 

One important premise underlying this study is that federal immigration law is "under-enforced" and that local law enforcement may serve as a "force multiplier," so long as the mission of local law enforcement is not compromised in the process. The author also argues that the term "sanctuary city" creates more confusion than clarity, as it encompasses a variety of measures each of which should be argued on its own merits. The author therefore evaluates the distinct legal and policy issues surrounding different types of sanctuary measures, examining, for example, whether a particular measure violates the federal government's power to regulate immigration law or how the public interest might be served through such a policy. He identifies four major "sanctuary" measures: first, declining ICE's immigration detainer requests; second, restricting communication with federal immigration authorities; third, barring police inquiries or investigations into a person's immigration status; and fourth, preventing police officers from making arrests for violations of federal immigration law. In some instances, he suggests, the claims of sanctuary advocates are not fully supported by the available data. He argues that "the failure to distinguish between the differing measures underlying sanctuary cities has fueled misleading arguments on both sides of the debate."  The article includes a brief history of the sanctuary movement. (Diversity Dynamics)

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Rice, J. (2018). Looking Past the Label: An Analysis of the Measures Underlying 'Sanctuary Cities'. University of Memphis Law Review 85. Available at SSRN: https://www.ssrn.com/abstract=3101834