Volume 33
Issue 1
Fall '19

The Legality of Sanctuary Cities

Written By: Grace Benton


In an interview with a Seattle radio station in August 2016, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump declared, “sanctuary cities are out…sanctuary cities are over.”

Bringing an end to sanctuary cities–jurisdictions that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities–factored prominently into Candidate Trump’s 2016 campaign and was a top-priority when he assumed the presidency. On January 25, 2017, just five days after his inauguration, President Trump signed an executive order that sought to restrict federal funding to jurisdictions that limit cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) responsible for enforcing federal laws on border control, customs, trade, and immigration.

Citing the “immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our republic” resulting from sanctuary cities’ “willful[]” violation of Federal laws in their “attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States,” the executive order vowed to “ensure that jurisdictions that fail to comply with applicable Federal law do not receive Federal funds…”

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