Sanctuary Cities: Humanitarian verse Political Agenda

According to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, seventy percent of voters listed immigration as highly important in the 2016 Presidential Election. It remains a controversial topic among Americans today, as well as a controversial divisive subject between two different views. One view is that, as the richest nation in the world, it is a humanitarian obligation to provide and welcome those from other countries into the United States. The other view is the United States immigration system is broken, therefore, it needs to be fixed.

This would mean re-evaluating the immigration process, deporting those who are undocumented and have not followed the proper legal procedures required by law, and demanding those who want to enter the country do so by following the procedural process required by the country. What is the definition of a country? According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, a country is defined as a political state or nation or its territory. This acknowledges that we have a distinct territory which would also imply there are borders to this territory.

It also defines an undocumented immigrant as lacking documents required for legal immigration or residence. Since the United States is a sovereign nation, it is independent and governs itself, while the citizens elect representatives that the laws (“Sovereign Nation”). This being said, as a sovereign nation, the U.S. has immigration laws and processes in place. If there are existing laws, how are sanctuary cities, cities that protect undocumented immigrants by providing a place of safety from ICE and law enforcement, allowed to exist? That is a legitimate question that has yet to be answered.

Get quality help now

Proficient in: Immigration Reform

4.7 (348)

“ Amazing as always, gave her a week to finish a big assignment and came through way ahead of time. ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

However, arguments can be made on both sides of the sanctuary city and immigration dilemma for the humanitarian and political arguments, as well as the implications that result from both views.

To begin with, there is a humanitarian argument in favor of sanctuary cities. According to Ryan Nowrouzi, sanctuary cities create a safer society and a legal, non-violent entry for undocumented immigrants (2018). The argument those in favor of open borders and who claim this is a humanitarian argument, claim the “wall can never be 100 percent effective” (Trend 39). They also claim, “stopping undocumented migrants from entering the country is costing the economy valuable resources,” and “it’s simply unfair and racist to exclude people seeking a better life in the United States” (Trend 39). Those in favor of following established laws and against the idea of sanctuary cities do not deny the United States’ humanitarian obligation. They argue that this humanitarian effort is accomplished by already established laws. These would be the processes in place for immigrants to apply for amnesty. The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act passed by the 99th Congress established the exact guideline to qualify for such amnregaa from both sides of the major political parties, Democrats and Republicans. Both parties mischaracterize facts in numbers to benefit their viewpoint. The facts are that immigration is an issue that can get emotional among Americans. Politicians have learned that when they appeal to the emotional side of individuals they can get action or financing from supporters. This happens at all levels of government, federal, state, and local. “Aside from local needs and economic imperatives, local political realities also factor into local leaders’ policy calculations (Huang and Liu 14). This refers to most sanctuary city designation is decided at the local level. The intentions of the local riding government may not be the legal protection for undocumented immigrants, as much as it could be for economic growth within the community. The political sanctuary city argument can also be an avenue for political parties and politicians to include other programs that they or the constitutes find important. The problem with immigration being a political agenda, the facts are lost in the process and the citizens are not informed of the true benefits and downfalls these cities proved. It becomes which political party and its donors can spend the most money to influence public opinion.

Finally, there are implications for both viewpoints. For those who believe sanctuary cities are a threat to our nation, they use the financial impacts and the lack of enforcing existing as a major concern. The Poughkeepsie Journal published an article stating that sanctuary cities prohibit the public law enforcement from helping any ICE or immigration deployments because it would prevent them from completing their own on the job duties, except in a true criminal investigation (‘Distinguish between Facts, Propaganda in Regard to Sanctuary Cities” A14). Robert Ehrlich claims some sanctuary city logic is not unreasonable. He says protecting undocumented immigrants when their only crime is a minor misdemeanor may be reasonable. However, sanctuary cities such as San Francisco, “violate all common sense”. When they release felons and repeat entry immigrants back on the street and protect them from ICE and law enforcement then they are jeopardizing the public’s safety (Ehrlich). Those who are not in support of sanctuary cities believe all undocumented immigrants need to be addressed. They claim not addressing the immigration issue only breads more laws being broken. According to an article in The Poughkeepsie Journal, “Instead of creating a haven for law-abiding legal residents, sanctuary cities undermine public safety. Their outrageous obstruction puts all Americans at risk by sheltering and releasing violent criminals back into our neighborhoods instead of turning them over to federal authorities for deportation” (‘Sanctuary Cities Undermine Public Safety’ A9). The Freeman makes the argument that when the laws are left unenforced then all other laws are being weakened in the process. The message being portrayed to all individuals in sanctuary cities is that when you allow immigration laws to be ignored, then all other laws can equally be ignored (“When Laws Are Not Enforced, Anarchy Follows”). This creates an environment where laws are optional, not mandatory. The U.S. nation’s entire existence is based on the constitution and laws. If that is removed, the implications would be detrimental to the survival of the nation.

Overall, it is hard to make the distinction if sanctuary cities are indeed focused on the humanitarian efforts it claims to provide undocumented immigrants or if there are other political ulterior motives. There is enough research and support to make a legitimate case for both being true. Regardless of the motives, the true issues become the implications that these views and actions create for the local citizen, as well as the state and federal ramifications. The fact remains that the federal level government does have some advantages and can influence the state level of government. This undocumented immigration issue may be best resolved in the polls where the American people decide what is best for the citizens of this great country.

Work Cited

  1. “Dictionary by Merriam-Webster: America’s Most-Trusted Online Dictionary.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster,
  2. ‘Distinguish between Facts, Propaganda regarding Sanctuary Cities.’ The Poughkeepsie Journal, Jun 18, 2017. ProQuest,
  3. Ehrlich, Robert. Sanctuary Cities Violate Federal Law and Common Sense. Gale, Cengage Learning, 2017. Opposing Viewpoints,
  4. Fingerhut, Hannah. “Top Voting Issues in 2016 Election.” Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 18 Sept. 2018,
  5. Huang, Xi, and Cathy Yang Liu. “Welcoming Cities: Immigration Policy at the Local Government Level.” Urban Affairs Review, vol. 54, no. 1, Jan. 2018, pp. 3–32. Public Affairs Index, doi:10.1177/1078087416678999.
  6. Lowenbraun, Joe. “Distinguish between Facts, Propaganda regarding Sanctuary Cities: Letter.” The Poughkeepsie Journal, Poughkeepsie Journal, 10 June 2017,
  7. Nowrouzi, Ryan. ‘Sanctuary cities create a safer society.’ UWIRE Text, 7 Nov. 2018, p. 1. Academic OneFile, Accessed 10 Nov. 2018.
  8. Rice, James M. “Looking Past the Label: An Analysis of the Measures Underlying ‘Sanctuary Cities.’” University of Memphis Law Review, vol. 48, no. 1, Fall 2017, pp. 83–143. Criminal Justice Abstracts,
  9. ‘Sanctuary Cities Undermine Public Safety.’ The Poughkeepsie Journal, Apr 04, 2018. ProQuest,
  10. “Sovereign Nation.” The Free Dictionary, Farlex, legal
  11. “Trend #6: The Economics of the Wall.” Trends Magazine, no. 169, May 2017, pp. 38–42. Business Source Complete,
  12. ‘When Laws Are Not Enforced, Anarchy Follows.’ Freeman, The (Waukesha, WI), sec. Local News, 6 Nov. 2018. NewsBank, Accessed 10 Nov. 2018.

Cite this page

Sanctuary Cities: Humanitarian verse Political Agenda. (2022, Apr 26). Retrieved from

Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7