The Sanctuary City Debate By: Eric olson

Who are the major players that stand in defense of sanctuary cities?

The recent push to eliminate the funding from sanctuary cities has been a divisive topic over the last two months for many cities or counties that contain a major amount of undocumented aliens. Most famously, San Francisco has had a long and arduous battle against the Trump administration concerning sanctuary cities and the fate of their federally funded grant money that they need to operate on. Ed Lee, the current mayor of San Francisco, and open supporter of sanctuary cities, has been on the front lines of the national debate. In a video breakdown of the Sanctuary City issue by Seeker Daily, a subsidiary of Discover, Lee was quoted as saying “San Francisco is a sanctuary city and will not waiver in its commitment to protect the rights of all its residents,” . Lee isn’t the only mayor of a major metropolitan city to declare sanctuary city status. Mayors such as Rahm Emanuel, Bill De Blasio, and Marty Walsh all have voiced their stances on immigrant protection. Lee however, can be easily seen as the most radical and outspoken of them all. This can be assumed because of his support of David Herrera who earlier in the year sued Trump over his administration's decisions on illegal immigration. But why is Lee so pro Sanctuary City? He was never an immigrant himself and he certainly never faced challenges like those he is trying to protect. Perhaps his official wikipedia page can shed some light on his motivation to stand against the political current. “Lee worked as Managing Attorney for the San Francisco Asian Law Caucus where he was an advocate for affordable housing and the rights of immigrants and renters”. This spirited fight that Lee holds so dearly may in fact have been fueled by some emotional connection to his work he made during his time as Managing Attorney. To be dramatic, that makes issue not just a struggle of politics, but a clash of morals and ideologies.

Are any religious organizations making any efforts to help refugees?

Since the issue of illegal immigration and sanctuary cities is one of helping one’s fellow man in humanitarian relief, one could surmise that religious organizations would offer assistance to these people in need. Over the years of illegal immigration from Mexico to America, then eventually to Canada, primarily Christian churches and Christianity based organizations have been the biggest contributor to aiding illegals as they make their way to Canada. According to the Star Tribune, a locally known Minnesota newspaper who interview several sanctuary workers, “John Roach, archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, discourages Roman Catholic churches from getting involved in the movement,” This seems rather uncharacteristic of a holy man, much less of an organization of those who are devoting their lives to religious work. However, he has also been quoted as saying “He sympathizes with the refugees but prefers that they be helped in legal ways”. So perhaps he is just looking to stay out of the limelight. But why would a priest, pastor or reverend want to stay out of the spotlight for an issue they seem to have valuable input of? Most likely because, even clergy are not above the law, especially immigration law. For example, in 1986, Rev. John Fife was convicted by a federal jury for “suspicion of harboring undocumented immigrants. They also were accused of helping people enter the country illegally...conspiring to smuggle people into the country”, explains a CNN article about the history of religious affiliation with immigration matters. Although many sects of the church will deny official help to illegal immigration, their congregations still operate on their own accord to do what they feel is right.

Who is ICE and what is their purpose?

With all the media attention around the debate of sanctuary cities, defunding grants, and exporting illegals, one major player in the game has remained fairly out of the spotlight. The ICE agents (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) are a government funded, relatively small department under the larger supervision of the Department of Homeland Security. In case you were not aware, the DHS handles everything from border security to counter terrorism. Formerly a part of the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) it was absorbed into the DHS, along with the INS, in 2003. On their website, ICE is defined as ,” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) enforces federal laws governing border control, customs, trade and immigration to promote homeland security and public safety”. Essentially they’re self defined as border cops tasked with catching of contraband at the border and making sure people are only crossing the border legally. However, when questioned about conducting targeted raids on areas known for illegal immigrant habitation, an ICE field officer had this to say, "ICE regularly conducts targeted enforcement operations across the country to enhance public safety and national security, and to ensure the integrity of our nation's immigration system”. So perhaps ICE has a more involved role in the hunt for illegal aliens than they let on in their bio on their website. But to say they stretched the truth or to conclude that they operated outside the law is a fallacy. By “enforcing federal laws” and being under the umbrella of a government agency, they are simply doing their job to keep the immigrants that cross the border illegally out of the USA. To put it into an analogy, America is the first place prize of a weightlifting competition. Only one person can win. The first competitor gets up every morning and trains all the time. They take the necessary steps and should, in theory, be rewarded for their hard work with the prize. The other guy simply takes a steroid and cheats his way to the prize. The referees in this analogy are the ICE agents. They make sure the game is played fair and the disqualify anyone who rigs the system in their favor. This issue can broken down much more efficiently when not weighed down or clouded by party rhetoric and biased opinions. If you look at the issue without an agenda and with a level head, these agents are here to protect and serve. It’s that simple.

Are Sanctuary Cities intimidated by HR 83, and how many are retracting their declarations of sanctuary?

Ever since the creation and initial press coverage of House Referendum 83, both sides of the issue have vowed to hold strong to their opinions and fight to keep the other side from gaining any new ground. But what has this Bill’s effect been in the real world? Outside of all the rhetoric and Capitol Hill conjecture, has the bill swayed any opinions or caused any action? It’s hard to tell if anything is happening on a grand scale when all anybody talks about is that the top most tier of the pack are concerned about. According to Bryan Griffith and Jessica Vaughan, creators of, eight cities and municipalities, have dropped their declared Sanctuary City status. Compared to the approximate 300 cities and municipalities who retain their status, eight names might seem like a drop in the bucket. However, when you examine the names on the list, a different story appears. One of these such names is, none other than Miami Dade County has decided to revoke their status as a Sanctuary City in hopes of not losing any further Federal grants. In an interview with the Miami Herald, the mayor of Miami, Carlos Gimenez said, “I want to make sure we don’t put in jeopardy the millions of funds we get from the federal government”. This may well be the first of many large, metropolitan cities to cut their losses and drop their status in order to stay afloat.

Where will withheld money go if not to sanctuary cities?

If major cities had DHS grants and Federal funding cut, where would the money end up? Much of the political debate over the last two months has been centered around immigration related topic such as the wall, sanctuary cities, and House Referendum 83, which legally allows the stripping of federal aid to cities that declare themselves or are deemed as “Sanctuary Cities”. What people should really be wondering is, where is the money going? Well since funding is the property of the DHS, it is theirs to decide where it is spent. There is no set project the money will be spent on. However, most signs point to the construction of a southern border wall. According to Associated Press journalists, Julie Pace, Vivian Salama, and Rachel Zoll, “Congressional aides say there is about $100 million of unspent appropriations in the Department of Homeland Security account for border security, fencing and infrastructure. That would allow planning efforts to get started” With a wall that will cost approximately eight to fourteen billion dollars, this 100 million dollar flood of investment could kickstart construction over hundreds of miles of border. People also wonder what will be most affected by cuts to Sanctuary municipalities. In an analysis of Trump’s plan to defund Sanctuary Cities such as San Francisco, news source Seeker Daily said, “Forcing San Francisco to prepare for cuts to child care subsidies, HIV support, airport maintenance, housing for the homeless, etc”. So instead of clean terminals and tiny houses for the homeless, we’ll see much more fencing and job growth in the south. Perspective on a topic like this is paramount, one person can look at this and deduce that this is racism personified where the rich steal from the poor to help exclude more poor people from the party. Another person can look at this issue and note that this idea both puts the power of this country back in the hands of its people, and see opportunities for a resurging blue collar, middle class to be born out of all this due to mass hiring of operators who know how to work with their hands. Either way, Sanctuary Cities will still be defunded and those funds will be appropriated to future DHS projects.


1. Sanctuary City: municipality that has adopted a policy of protecting unauthorized immigrants by not prosecuting them for violating federal immigration laws and by ensuring that all residents have access to city services, regardless of immigration status.

2. HR: House Referendum, a general vote by the electorates of the House of Representatives on a single political question that has been referred to them for a direct decision.

3. ICE: an American federal law enforcement agency under the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) responsible for identifying, investigating, and dismantling vulnerabilities regarding the nation's border, economic, transportation, and infrastructure security.

4. Noncompliance: Failure to act in accordance with a wish or command.

5. Attorney General: the principal legal officer who represents a country or a state in legal proceedings and gives legal advice to the government.

6. Refugee: a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.

Works Cited:

Baker, Sam. "Why It's Difficult to Crack Down on 'Sanctuary Cities'." National Journal Daily AM 13 July 2015: 1. Points of View Reference Center. Web. 30 Jan. 2017.

Board, The Editorial. "Proud to Be a Sanctuary City." The New York Times. The New York Times, 18 Dec. 2016. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.

Bob.Price.Texas. "Congress Mulls Bill to Strip All Funds from Sanctuary Cities."Breitbart. N.p., 19 Jan. 2017. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.

"Ed Lee (politician)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 27 Mar. 2017. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.

Hanna, Jason. "Can churches provide legal sanctuary to undocumented immigrants?" CNN. Cable News Network, 17 Feb. 2017. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.

Hopfensperger, Jean, and Staff Writer. "Sanctuary Movement Finds itself a Home." Minneapolis Star and Tribune, Mar 23, 1987, pp. 01A, ProQuest Newsstand; Star Tribune (Minneapolis/St. Paul),

Julie Pace, Vivian Salama, and Rachel Zoll, Associated Press. "Trump moves to build border wall, cut sanctuary city funds." The Boston Globe, 26 Jan. 2017. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.

"Map: Sanctuary Cities, Counties, and States." Center for Immigration Studies. N.p., 07 July 2015. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.

"Sanctuary city." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 30 Mar. 2017. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.

Santana, Maria. "Source: ICE targeting 'sanctuary cities' with raids." CNN. Cable News Network, 25 Mar. 2017. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.

TestTubeNetwork. YouTube. YouTube, 28 Dec. 2016. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.

VivaPedro Pincay@thepedroski_ | January 27, 2017 - 12:15 pm. "Miami-Dade Is No Longer A "Sanctuary City" After Trump's Order." Vibe. N.p., 30 Jan. 2017. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.

"Who We Are." ICE. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.


Created with images by Kevitivity - "San Francisco Cityscape" • Tom Hilton - "Ed Lee" • vishal charles - "Church" • jbouie - "swat team" • free pictures of money - "Money" • Unsplash - "new york city brooklyn bridge night" • ** RCB ** - "i voted today"

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.