More Big Counties Jump on Sanctuary Bandwagon

The list of sanctuary jurisdictions continues to grow, even as the Trump administration tries to cut off some of their federal funding.

FAIR reported in 2018 that the number of sanctuaries nearly doubled – to 564 — since President Trump took office.

Last week, the Center for Immigration Studies added 10 more counties to the tally, including five with a combined population of 5.9 million: Clark County, Nev., (Las Vegas); Allegheny County, Pa., (Pittsburgh); Oklahoma County, Okla., (Oklahoma City); Shelby County, Tenn., (Memphis); and Hamilton County, Ohio, (Cincinnati).

Some of the largest cities in those counties – notably Las Vegas and Pittsburgh – were already functioning as de facto sanctuaries.

Counties are crucial to immigration enforcement because they run jails. Sanctuaries routinely reject jail holds (detainers) requested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), deny ICE agents access to interview incarcerated aliens, and generally refuse cooperation with ICE in any way.

The Trump administration has sought to withhold federal law-enforcement grants from sanctuary jurisdictions. But courts have stymied that effort with conflicting decisions.

Last February, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled in the administration’s favor, dismissing arguments that cooperating with ICE has a “chilling effect” on the relationship between immigrant communities and state and local officials.

But in April, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled against the administration, leaving the matter to be decided by the Supreme Court at some future date.

Meantime, sanctuaries continue to expand, receiving federal law-enforcement funding while flouting immigration law.

About Author


Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006. His deep belief is that immigration is the most transformational determinant of where we are heading as a nation and that our policies must be reformed in the public interest. Over many years on thousands of radio, TV and print interviews, Bob has made the case that unless immigration is regulated and sensibly reduced, it will be difficult for America to reduce unemployment, increase wages, improve health care and education and heighten national security. Prior to joining FAIR, Bob spent twenty years in network radio, marketing and communications after an earlier career in policy and budgeting within the Reagan Administration. Bob has a degree from George Mason University in Public Administration and Management.

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