Unit 2 OP-ED

Sanctuary Cities

Ashlynn Harnage

Virginia Commonwealth University


















Sanctuary cities harbor illegal immigrants which negatively impact the citizens within the community, state, and nation. They attract undocumented and criminal immigrants, so they can “hide” within the communities. Understanding the risks within the community, state, and nation will allow those supporting sanctuary cities to realize the devastation they may cause.  Rising costs negatively impact legal immigrants and citizens.  Changes in local and state laws should follow federal mandates and guidelines to regulate illegal immigrants and those that protect them.  Processes in place allow for immigrants to gain legal access within the nation; sanctuary cities negate those processes and allow greater protection for those entering the country illegally.

Risks Within the Community, State and Nation

In 2015, an immigrant named Juan Lopez, who came to the United States undocumented six times, was responsible for the murder of Katheryn Steinle in San Francisco, California (Hernandez, 2016). Like many cities in the United States, San Francisco is a sanctuary city where law enforcement is prohibited in interacting with immigration deportations. U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is one that can enforce laws but cannot force local law authority to interact. Many illegal immigrants come to America, hoping to live in sanctuary cities.  Immigration officers are not allowed to ask immigrants their status if they are living in a sanctuary city (Hernandez, 2016). This gives them more of an opportunity to commit crimes such as, theft, rape, murder, handling drugs, etc. While President Trump has used Katie Steinle as a reference for his stronger and stricter border with Mexico, he also wants to restrict federal assistance to sanctuary cities and make stricter laws and penalties for illegal immigrants who have committed any crime to protect the American citizens (Barbash & Bever, 2017).

Undocumented immigrants that work or live in sanctuary cities don’t have to worry about deportation or detainment.  Crime rate involved with illegal immigrants, prove that an 57% increase in law enforcement would decrease the crime from immigrants (Barbash & Bever, 2017). More crimes are committed in sanctuary cities because illegal immigrants are not afraid that they will be convicted by local authorities and that they will be protected from ICE.

(Smith, 2017)

(Gibbs, 2017)



Sanctuary cities cost the United States over a billion dollars to cover the expenses of school, healthcare, welfare, and jobs. The majority, 75%, of illegal immigrants are in the work force. Considering the costs of sanctuary cities is essential while understanding the burdens that occur. Federal funding has been threatened to be withdrawn for those cities that adopt policies that allow sanctuary cities (Fourth Economy, n.d.).  Almost $27 billion federal funds have been allocated to sanctuary cities across America (Andrzejewski, 2017). Most of this money went towards grants and direct pay such as, schools, housing, and community development, to undocumented immigrants and Washington, D.C. and Chicago have the greatest amount of federal funding per resident (Andrzejewski, 2017). Sanctuary cities have cost billions of dollars to provide assistance for undocumented immigrants instead of using federal funding could help provide for Americans citizens. Assistance could include help for legal immigrants and healthcare, organizations, programs, and education.

Federal Laws

Sanctuary cities have specific laws that prohibit local police authorities to question those harboring immigrants about their status, making it easier for them to commit crimes. Although local and state authorities cannot share information about illegal immigrants, federal law authorities still have the right to deport them. John Culberson, a republican, said “The local authorities have a choice; protect criminal illegal aliens that endanger their citizens or receive federal money. They can no longer do both” (Chronicle, San Francisco, 2017).  This is upsetting because these sanctuary cities are protecting illegal immigrants and putting their lives before the lives of American citizens. Sanctuary cities don’t participate in local government enforcing immigration laws that protect those in the cities.  Local and state law authorities should be able to enforce local and state laws, as well as detain criminal illegal immigrants. Pointing out that laws can be disregarded by some officials and some not, is an extreme eye-opener.  Laws are in place for those to abide by. Fighting for the citizens of America and protecting their rights and safety should be a priority as well as fighting for the safety for communities, jobs, and homes. Sanctuary cities are fighting for the lives of illegal immigrants who have committed serious crimes and hold criminal records. People stand for these illegal immigrants and their protection rather than supporting and respecting law officials, Americans’, and documented immigrants. People should want to live in safe communities without having to worry about crime. They should want to be treated with respect from law authority. They should give respect in order to gain respect. Immigration restrictions and federal law disregard local law enforcement that emphasize the role on the safety of community threats and reject federal law.

Impacts on Legal Immigration

Sanctuary cities put a burden on immigrants who chose to respect the United States laws and come here legally to become citizens. While illegal immigrants have a “safe haven” living in sanctuary cities, legal immigrants have followed every law to correctly complete the process and obtain jobs. On the other hand, sanctuary cities are like a slap in the face to legal immigrants who must endure the long journey with no motivation or encouragement during the process of becoming a citizen of the United States.



In conclusion, sanctuary cities pose a threat on American citizens and their safety. Many cities and states, like California and Chicago, house illegal immigrants.  These undocumented immigrants are protected by state and local laws that allow the influx of those seeking refuge to be housed in the protected cities.  Law enforcement, under the law, are not allowed to burden those within the city.  However, federal laws are the only law that can impact those seeking protection.  Ridding the country of sanctuary cities allows for positive changes within the communities, states and nations that are impacted.  Focusing on legal immigration versus harboring undocumented immigrants in sanctuary cities will provide safer communities and lower costs.  Making the legalization process for immigrants more accessible and easier and reducing the large time span will make a great impact on the debate against immigration.

(As city mayors fight to protect illegal aliens living in thier midst they are also passing laws to vilify American homeless, 2016)














Andrzejewski, A. (2017). Mapping $27 billion In Federal Funding Of America’s Sanctuary Cities. Forbes.

ANALYSIS: The costs of sanctuary cities is outrageous when we could be focusing on bettering the lives of American citizens and providing for their health and well-being.


As city mayors fight to protect illegal aliens living in thier midst they are also passing laws to vilify American homeless. (2016). Viral Liberty.

ANALYSIS: A picture describing the sadness of homeless veterans and how we provide for undocumented immigrants instead of the lives of the people who gave us freedom.


Barbash, F., & Bever, L. (2017, December 1). Justice Department issues arrest warrant after jury acquits Mexican immigrant in ‘sanctuary city’ killing: The case became a major Republican talking point during the 2016 presidential campaign. Washington Post.

ANALYSIS: The traumatic and devastating murder of Katie Steinle has been a real eye-opener for America and the politicians regarding sanctuary cities and the increase of crime and violence within them.


Chronicle, San Francisco. (2017, April 7). 4 Voices: Are sanctuary cities good for the community? Retrieved from San Francisco Chronicle: https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/article/Are-sanctuary-cities-good-for-the-community-and-11056788.php

ANALYSIS: The risks, dangers, and consequences of undocumented immigrants and the communities of America by letting undocumented immigrants get away with crime without being severely punished.


Fourth Economy. (n.d.). What is the Economic Cost–or Benefit—of Sanctuary Cities? Retrieved from Fourth Economy: https://fourtheconomy.com/what-is-the-economic-cost-or-benefit-of-sanctuary-cities/

ANALYSIS: The high costs of sanctuary cities is putting a burden on the American people and our tax payers instead of using federal funding for our homeless, veterans, and citizens.


Gibbs, D. (2017). Rejection of S.B. 54: California’s Sanctuary State Proposal. Political Pistachio.

ANALYSIS: This picture describes the sanctuary cities and how local law authorities have no right to question them or intervene with their lives.


Hernandez, K. (2016). Santuary Cities and Crime. The University of Texas at San Antonio.

ANALYSIS: The crime rates involved with sanctuary cities is rising due to the fact that immigrants don’t feel that they will get punished for committing crimes within sanctuary cities because local officials cannot detain them or question them.


Smith, J. (2017). The Murder of America’s Sons and Daughters. The NeoConservative Christain Right.

ANALYSIS: This picture demonstrates the murder of Katie Steinle in California and the deportation status of him. It shows that he was not guilty of killing Katie even though he clearing admitting to firing the gunshot.