Sanctuary Cities in America, including Denver and Aurora, Colorado

by Fred Elbel

The United States has the most generous immigration policy in the world, allowing approximately one million legal immigrants into our country every year. In addition, approximately 3 million illegal aliens sneak into our country every year (Time Magazine, September 20, 2004).

Many cities have implemented sanctuary policies which call for city employees - including police officers - not to report illegal aliens to the federal authorities. Many sanctuary cities, in contrast to the wishes of most Americans, also offer public services and benefits to illegal aliens that impose great fiscal and social costs on the taxpayers.

Sanctuary cities are illegal, made so by federal legislation enacted in 1996. Recognizing the adoption of sanctuary policies as a growing impediment to combating the wave of illegal aliens residing in the country, Congress adopted measures in 1996 that barred local ordinances that prohibited employees from providing information on illegal aliens to federal officials. The law says, "Notwithstanding any other provision of Federal, State or local law, a Federal, State, or local government entity or official may not prohibit or in any way restrict any government entity or official from sending to or receiving ... information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual." - § 434 of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), and § 642 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA).

According to 8 U.S. Code, Section 1373, “A state or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict ... sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.”

Until the Trump administration, the federal government had essentially abrogated its responsibility to enforce the law regarding sanctuary cities.

80 percent of American voters disapprove of localities not notifying federal immigration officials when they come in contact with an illegal alien: Poll: Americans overwhelmingly oppose sanctuary cities for illegal aliens, The Hill, February 22, 2017. A March 24, 2017 Rasmussen poll reveals that only 35% Want to Live in a Sanctuary Community.

Colorado has several de facto sanctuary cities, including Denver and Aurora, Colorado.

The United States government has preeminent jurisdiction over immigration. This is settled law. Sanctuary cities and states that presume to preempt federal law are engaged in an attempt to nullify federal law. They might be more appropriately called Sedition Cities.

It should be noted that America fought a Civil War over the question of whether states could nullify federal law. The issue is settled - they can not.



Resources and research

Map: Sanctuary Cities, Counties, and States, Center for Immigration Studies, March 2017:

Map of sanctuary cities

Sanctuary nation, The Social Contract journal, Spring, 2016.

Sanctuary Cities: Obstructing Immigration Enforcement, FAIR, October 2, 2015.

Sanctuary Policies Across the U.S. - A Report by FAIR's State and Local Department, FAIR, January, 2017.

NumbersUSA articles on sanctuary cities.

Center for Immigration Srudies articles on sanctuary cities.

Here is a CAIRCO compilation of articles on sanctuary cities.

Also see CAIRCO's May, 2005 Press conference and protest of Denver sanctuary policy.