Sanctuary City (Immigration)

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The term "Sanctuary City" refers to a city or state that enacts policies which are favorable to illegal immigrants. Specifically, sanctuary cities often mandate local laws which prevent inquiry into a person's immigration status, unless they are a suspect of crime or have been deported in the past. [1]

Often, however, sanctuary cities lack clearly written laws harboring illegal aliens. Instead, they can be identified by their treatment of illegal aliens.

Sanctuary policies are a violation of federal law, such as the section 642(a) of the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, which prohibits the embedding of illegal immigrants[2], and the March 2005 United States Supreme Court case, Muehler v Mena, which stated that law enforcement has the right to ask about immigration status.[3]

In addition to major cities, such as New York City [4], Los Angeles, and Chicago, a few states have adopted sanctuary policies, including Alaska and Oregon. [5]


In April 2009, the family of a father and two sons allegedly murdered by an illegal immigrant last year is suing the city of San Francisco, claiming its "sanctuary city" policy contributed to their deaths. [6] [7]

List of Sanctuary Cities

Below is a list of sanctuary cities throughout the United States. While many of these cities have specific “don’t ask, don’t tell” laws, others have been added to this list because of their unwritten, informal sanctuary policies seen through the town's treatment of illegal immigrants.


  • Anchorage, AK
  • Fairbanks, AK


  • Chandler, AZ
  • Phoenix, AZ


  • Bell Gardens, CA
  • City of Industry, CA
  • City of Commerce, CA
  • Cypress, CA
  • Davis CA
  • Diamond Bar, CA
  • Downey, CA
  • Fresno, CA
  • Lakewood, CA
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Long Beach, CA
  • Lynwood, CA
  • Maywood, CA
  • Montebello, CA
  • National City, CA
  • Norwalk, CA
  • Oakland, CA
  • Paramount, CA
  • Pico Rivera, CA
  • So. Gate, CA
  • San Bernardino, Ca.
  • San Diego, CA
  • Santa Cruz, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • San Jose, CA
  • Sonoma County, CA
  • Vernon, CA
  • Watsonville, CA
  • Wilmington, CA


  • Aurora, CO
  • Commerce City, CO
  • Denver, CO
  • Durango, CO
  • Federal Heights, CO
  • Fort Collins CO
  • Lafayette, CO
  • Thornton, CO
  • Westminster, CO


  • New Haven, CT
  • Springfield CT (Disputed)


  • DeLeon Springs, FL
  • Deltona, Fl
  • Miami, FL
  • Sanford, Fl


  • Dalton, GA


  • Chicago, IL
  • Cicero, IL
  • Evanston, IL


  • Cambridge, Mass.
  • Chelsea, Mass.
  • Orleans, Mass.


  • Portland
  • State of Maine


  • Baltimore, MD
  • Gaithersburg, MD
  • Takoma Park, MD


  • Ann Arbor, MI
  • Detroit, MI


  • Minneapolis, MN
  • St. Paul, MN
  • Worthington, MN


  • Reno

New Jersey

  • Bridgeton, NJ
  • Camden, NJ
  • Fort Lee, NJ
  • Hightstown, NJ
  • Jersey City, NJ
  • Newark, NJ
  • North Bergen, NJ
  • Trenton, NJ
  • Union City, NJ
  • West New York, NJ

New Mexico

  • Albuquerque, NM
  • Aztec, NM
  • Rio Arriba County, NM
  • Santa Fe, NM

New York

  • Bay Shore, NY
  • Brentwood, NY
  • Central Islip, NY
  • Farmingville, NY
  • New York City, NY
  • Peekskill, NY
  • Riverhead, NY
  • Shirly/Mastic, NY
  • Spring Valley Village, NY
  • Uniondale, NY
  • Westbury, NY

North Carolina (Per an October 2015 order by the N.Carolina Governor, the following sanctuary cities will nolonger be tolerated.)

  • Charlotte, NC
  • Durham, NC
  • Raleigh
  • Winston-Salem


  • Columbus, OH
  • Painesville, OH


  • Oklahoma City
  • Tulsa


  • State of Oregon
  • Ashland, OR
  • Gaston, OR
  • Marion County, OR
  • Portland, OR

Texas (Per an October 2015 order by the Texas Governor, the following sanctuary cities will nolonger be tolerated.)

  • Austin, TX
  • Baytown, TX
  • Brownsville, TX
  • Channelview, TX
  • Denton, TX
  • Dallas, TX
  • El Cenizo, TX
  • Ft.Worth, TX
  • Houston, TX
  • Katy, TX
  • Laredo, TX
  • Mcallen, TX
  • Port Arthur, TX
  • San Antonio, TX


  • Provo, UT
  • Salt Lake City, UT


  • Fairfax County, VA
  • Virginia Beach, VA
  • Washington


  • Seattle, WA


  • Madison, WI
  • Wyoming
  • Jackson Hole, WY

Washington, D.C.


  4. The Sanctuary Spat,, December 10, 2007
  6. Family Sues San Francisco Saying Sanctuary Law to Blame for Murder of Father, Two Sons, April 8, 2009
  7. San Francisco Sued Over Sanctuary Policy,, April 7, 2009