What Has Congress Done?
Congress has introduced several proposals to prohibit sanctuary policies. The “Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act” (HR 3009), passed the House on July 23, 2015. This legislation would have withheld federal funding, including the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, from any state or local subdivision that restricted communication with the Immigration and Naturalization Service or other government entity regarding an individual's citizenship or immigration status. On July 29, 2017, the House passed the “No Sanctuary for Criminals Act” (HR 3003).This legislation would have prohibited federal, state and local government entities from obstructing or restricting law enforcement activities related to information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, inadmissibility or deportability, or custody status of any individual. Neither bill was considered in the Senate.
Pending in Congress in 2019 are “Help Ensure Legal Detainers Act” (HR 438), “Ending Sanctuary Cities Act of 2019” (HR 516), “No Federal Funding to Benefit Sanctuary Cities Act” (HR 1885), and “No Sanctuary for Criminals Act of 2019” (HR 1928). These bills would deny federal funding to any state or locality that prevents or impedes immigration enforcement. “No Funding for Sanctuary Campuses Act” (HR 768) would prohibit federal funding for institutions of higher education that violate federal immigration law.
What Bills Are States Introducing Regarding Sanctuary Policies?
In 2017 at least 36 states and the District of Columbia considered legislation regarding sanctuary jurisdictions or noncompliance with immigration detainers. Proposals in 33 states would prohibit sanctuary policies, and proposals in 15 states and the District of Columbia would support them. Twelve states have legislation on both sides of the issue.
Bills have been introduced in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. More than 120 bills were introduced on the issue of sanctuary jurisdictions and immigration detainers.
California SR 22, enacted March 6, 2017, calls upon Trump and Kelly to publicly reaffirm the principles of the ICE policy memorandum dated Oct. 24, 2011, regarding enforcement actions at sensitive locations such as courthouses, hospitals and houses of worship.
Mississippi S 2710, enacted March 27, 2017, bars state or local jurisdictions or college institutions from prohibiting cooperation with federal agencies or officials to verify or report the immigration status of any person.
Georgia H 37, enacted April 27, 2017, prohibits postsecondary institutions from adopting sanctuary policies and adds penalties for violations.
Indiana S 423, enacted May 2, 2017, added secondary educational institutions to its law prohibiting localities from limiting communication about immigration status with federal law enforcement.
Texas S 4 was signed by the governor on May 7, 2017. The law prohibits localities, institutions of higher education, police departments, sheriffs, municipal or county attorneys from adopting policies that prohibit enforcement of state and federal immigration laws. Violations can result in civil penalties. The law does not apply to hospitals, public health departments, or school districts. Law enforcement must comply with federal detainer requests.
Vermont S 79, signed on March 28, 2017, prohibits state and local government officials from sharing information with the federal government regarding the religion, immigration status or national origin, among other personal information, of the residents of Vermont. The law does not prohibit compliance with 8 USC Sections 1373 and 1644.
In 2018, 25 states considered legislation regarding sanctuary jurisdictions or noncompliance with immigration detainers. The number of bills considered decreased from 100 in 2017 to 66 in 2018. Only three states—California, Iowa, and Tennessee—enacted laws related to sanctuary policies.
California A 110 prohibited law enforcement agencies from contracting with the federal government to house individuals as federal detainees for purposes of civil immigration custody.
Iowa S 481 required state law enforcement to comply with federal immigration requests.
Tennessee H 2315 barred state or local government entities or officials from adopting or enacting sanctuary policies.
In Oregon, a ballot initiative to repeal the state’s sanctuary laws failed 2 to 1.
California and Oregon are joined by eight other states and D.C. that have implemented policies in favor of providing sanctuary for immigrants. In contrast, nine states (including Iowa and Tennessee) now legislatively require state and local government entities to enforce federal immigration laws.
Previous to 2018, three states and the District of Columbia enacted legislation to prohibit compliance with detainers unless certain conditions are met, including conviction of specified crimes. The “Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools (TRUST) Act” was enacted in Connecticut in May 2013 (H 6659), in California in October 2013 (A 4), in Washington DC (R 75) in March 2017, and in Illinois (S 31) in August 2017.
The map below demonstrates the states that have enacted legislation in favor of sanctuary policies and states that have enacted legislation prohibiting sanctuary jurisdictions as of April 2019.
State legislatures continue to advocate for legislation either for or against sanctuary policies. Florida enacted legislation in June 2019, prohibiting sanctuary jurisdictions. As of June 2019, 30 states have pending legislation related to sanctuary jurisdictions or noncompliance with immigration detainers. Of these states, 21 states have proposed legislation prohibiting sanctuary policies including Arkansas, Arizona, Maine, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Five states have bills supporting sanctuary policies including California, Hawaii, New York, Vermont, and Washington. Four states have proposed legislation that would either prohibit or support sanctuary policies including Colorado, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Tennessee.