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New Deliberation Materials: "Sanctuary Cities"

Street Law, Inc.

Over 40 years of educating about law, democracy, and human rights

New Deliberation Materials: "Sanctuary Cities"

Street Law offers new deliberation materials on a current public issue: Should cities or counties be able to declare themselves “sanctuaries” and refuse to cooperate with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement detainer requests?

The federal government and state/local governments have been butting heads over immigration policy and enforcement for years. During the Obama Administration, the most publicized conflicts were over the extent to which states could make their own immigration-related laws. In these cases, the states argued their laws and actions were designed to complement and comply with federal immigration law and fill a void in the enforcement of federal law by the Obama Administration. Cases about those issues went to the Supreme Court: Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting (2011) and Arizona v. U.S. (2012). Late in Obama’s presidency, 26 states also sued the federal government over the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program, but the Supreme Court divided 4-4 on the issue: US v. Texas (2016).

President Trump has pledged to tighten and vigorously enforce immigration laws, and so the disputes between the federal and local governments have taken a different tone. Current conflicts between the states and the federal government have arisen over the president’s ban on travelers from seven countries and whether local governments can declare themselves “sanctuaries” for undocumented immigrants. (The federal government's disputes with sanctuary cities are now more public and vociferous, but not entirely new, as the Obama Justice Department did clash with sanctuary cities on occasion.)

In all of these disputes between state or local governments and the federal government, the federal government argues that it has complete control of immigration law—that the Constitution empowers  Congress to make immigration law, and those laws empower the executive branch to enforce them with wide discretion. The states, on the other hand, argue that they are the ones directly impacted by the presence, absence, or prosecution of immigrants and that they must have the power to set policies to make their communities safe and prosperous.

New! Classroom Deliberation Materials

This is a topic that many people are passionate about, AND it is an excellent way to explore issues of federalism in class. Street Law’s new deliberation materials provide classroom-ready readings presenting the issue background and arguments on both sides:

Deliberation: Sanctuary Cities

Deliberation Guide and Student Handouts

Other Street Law Deliberation Resources on Immigration Issues

Arizona v. United States - Position Papers

Deliberation: Migration

Deliberation: Educating Non-Citizens

Learn more

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