Update on Sanctuary Jurisdictions

By Jessica M. Vaughan on January 7, 2016

Related: Map: Sanctuary Cities, Counties, and States

In the absence of federal action, sanctuary jurisdictions remain as a significant public safety problem throughout the country. These policies have resulted in the release of more than 10,000 criminal aliens that ICE was trying to deport, allowing these offenders to remain in the community and commit more crimes. In addition, these policies obstruct vital communication between local and federal law enforcement agencies, and interfere with ICE's ability to enforce immigration laws.

Some states wisely have moved to prevent local governments from imposing sanctuary policies. In October, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed a new law prohibiting sanctuary ordinances, requiring full cooperation with ICE, and barring acceptance of unverifiable forms of identification, such as the consular ID cards issued by some foreign governments. Texas Governor Gregg Abbott has said he will withhold certain state law enforcement funding from any jurisdictions in his state that become sanctuaries, and promised to push for legislation in the next session. The most prominent target for the action likely will be Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, who established a new sanctuary policy on September 1, 2015.

Fed up with the unwillingness of California leaders to reverse sanctuary laws even after a string of violent acts committed by criminal aliens drew national attention to the problem, a California citizens group has launched a new ballot initiative that would overturn the state sanctuary law that went into effect on January 1, 2014. The initiative would direct all law enforcement agencies and jurisdictions to cooperate fully with ICE in a variety of ways. It also would clarify that all law enforcement officers in the state may inquire about a person's immigration status.

Outgoing Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who had long maintained obstructive sanctuary policies, undid them before leaving office in December 2015. One of the very first acts of new Mayor Jim Kenney, within hours of his swearing-in, and after accepting some homemade bread baked by illegal aliens, was to insttute a new sanctuary policy.

In addition to Dallas County, other new sanctuary jurisdictions include the city of Lawrence, Mass., and five counties in Kentucky. In addition, in December, a committee of the Massachusetts legislature approved a strict and far-reaching sanctuary bill.

According to government documents I have obtained through FOIA requests and other channels, and independent research, I have been able to determine that there are over 300 sanctuary jurisdictions in the United States. These are cities, counties, and states that have laws, ordinances, regulations, resolutions, policies, or other practices that protect criminal aliens from deportation — either by refusing to or prohibiting agencies from complying with ICE detainers, imposing unreasonable conditions on detainer acceptance, or otherwise impeding open communication and information exchanges between their employees or officers and federal immigration officers.

A detainer is the primary tool used by ICE to take custody of criminal aliens for deportation. It is an order or notice to another law enforcement agency that ICE intends to assume custody of an alien, and it includes information on the alien's previous criminal history, immigration violations, and potential risk to public safety or security. ICE currently issues three kinds of detainers. Some jurisdictions pick and choose which kinds of detainers they will accept and respond to.

These are the sanctuary jurisdictions I have identified:


California, Connecticut, New Mexico, Colorado

Cities and Counties

South Tucson

California (in addition to all county sheriffs)
Los Angeles
Orange County Probation Department

Colorado (in addition to all counties)
Aurora Detention Center

Connecticut (in addition to state LEAs)
East Haven

Broward County
Hernando County
Hillsborough County
Miami-Dade County
Palm Beach County
Pasco County
Pinellas County

Clayton County
Fulton County

Champaign County
Cook County

Allamakee County
Benton County
Cass County
Clinton County
Delaware County
Dubuque County
Franklin County
Freemont County
Greene County
Ida County
Iowa County
Jefferson County
Johnson County
Linn County
Marion County
Monona County
Montgomery County
Polk County
Pottawattamie County
Sioux County
Story County
Wapello County
Winneshiek County

Butler County
Finney County
Harvey County
Johnson County
Sedgwick County
Shawnee County

Campbell County
Franklin County
Kenton County
Scott County
Woodford County

Lafayette Parish
Orleans Parish


Baltimore City
Montgomery County
Prince George's County


Hennepin County
Ramsey County

Douglas County
Hall County
Lancaster County
Sarpy County

Clark County
Washoe County

New Jersey
Middlesex County
Ocean County
Union County

New Mexico (in addition to all counties)
Rio Arriba

New York
Franklin County
Nassau County
New York City
Onondaga County
Rensselaer County
Saratoga County
Suffolk County
St. Lawrence County
Wayne County

North Dakota
North Dakota State Penitentiary
South West Multiple County Corrections Center

Clackamas County
Clatsop, Oregon
Coos County
Crook County
Curry County
Deschutes County
Douglas County
Gilliam County
Grant County
Hood River County
Jackson County
Jefferson County
Lincoln County
Linn County
Malheur County
Marion County
Multnomah County
Polk County
Sherman County
Springfield Police Department
Tillamook County
Umatilla County
Union County
Wallowa County
Wasco County
Washington County
Wheeler County
Yamhill County

Lehigh County

Rhode Island
Rhode Island Department of Corrections

Dallas County
Travis County

Chesterfield County

Baker County
Benton County
Chelan County
Clallam County
Cowlitz County
Franklin County Jefferson County
Kent City Jail, King County
King County
Kitsap County
Pierce County
Skagit County
Snohomish County
South Correctional Entity (SCORE) Jail, King County
Spokane County
Thurston County
Walla Walla County
Whatcom County
Yakima County

Washington, DC