News & Media

Quick guide for understanding the Sanctuary Movement!

December 12, 2016

What our cities and towns can do to protect families


Low-income communities of color are disproportionately targeted by law enforcement and are funneled into an unjust criminal justice system. For undocumented immigrants, into a deportation system that lacks basic due process protections. Immigrant communities of color are targeted two-fold; based on race and immigration status. Historically, our government’s first response to dealing with communities of color is through incarceration.


The framing of the President-Elect’s announcements on immigration and criminal justice enforcement “reforms” will only exacerbate this problem. The divisive plan of “deporting 2-3 million criminal aliens” and support for unconstitutional stop and frisk policies, attempts to justify biased policing and other misconduct against certain members of our communities like creating a registry program for our Muslim brothers and sisters. Rather than continuing to fund and focus on mass incarceration, tracking, and deportation, we need to invest in policies that uphold our values, protect human rights, and provide true security for our community. 


There are several ways for cities to protect our families and ensure that they do not live in fear of draconian rhetoric. Below are examples of what it means to be a “sanctuary” city supported by resolutions and public statements by local elected officials: 


Criminal Justice 

Prohibit the use of or contracting with private prison companies at all level of the criminal justice system including jails, probation, or diversion programs.

Prohibit the use of racial profiling policies including “stop and frisk.”

Ban arrest of low level offenses such as for civil citations. 

Commit to not prosecuting low level offenses.  

Commit resources to diversion programs and bail reform. 



Prohibit the participation of city officials in, and the use of city resources for, the enforcement of federal immigration law. 

Prohibit the collection of information on immigration status, or instructing officials not to do so.

Prohibit the sharing of information with ICE at all levels of the government including jails by embedding this prohibition in broad privacy or confidentiality ordinances, executive orders, and/or regulations.

Prohibit ICE access to jails, municipal courts and probation offices. 

Prohibit ICE access to sensitive locations including schools (elementary, high school and university), hospitals, places of worship, sites of public demonstration.

Communicate to immigrants, people of color, Muslims and others that they are welcome and respected.


An inclusive community

Reject profiling, surveillance or registries of people based on religion; welcome Muslims and refugees.

Track and respond to hate crimes and harassment.

Speak out publicly against federal policies that would hurt the most vulnerable, including the threat to cut health insurance and Medicaid for 22 million people.


Sample City Policies Resolutions & Statements


New Orleans.

San Francisco.

Long Beach.