This section of DiscoverTheNetworks examines the "sanctuary" policies that many large urban cities (and some small towns) have adopted to protect illegal immigrants from law-enforcement authorities. These policies require city employees to refrain from notifying the federal government that illegal aliens are living in their communities.
Some sanctuary policies are "formal," in the sense that they are embodied in laws that have been passed by local governments in the form of resolutions, ordinances, or administrative actions. By contrast, "informal" sanctuary policies are not codified anywhere in written form, but are nonetheless carried out by government workers.
Sanctuary city policies drew their original inspiration from churches that provided aid to illegal aliens from Central America who had fled from the civil wars that raged in their homelands (Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala) during the 1980s.
Sanctuary policies are enacted for a variety of reasons: to appease illegal-immigration advocacy groups that aggressively lobby local governments on behalf of illegals; to persuade the members of large immigrant communities to contribute as many dollars and votes as possible to those political leaders who support such policies; to encourage illegal aliens who are victims of (or witnesses to) crimes of any kind, to cooperate with police without fear of deportation; to encourage illegals to take advantage of city services such as health care and education; to act in accordance with a deep-seated foundational belief that the United States does not have a right to restrict the passage of immigrants across its borders. Indifference to, or ignorance of, the great societal harm that results from illegal immigration also plays a significant role.
Among the U.S. cities where sanctuary laws exist are: Houston, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Long Beach (California), Portland (Oregon), Portland (Maine), New York, Minneapolis, Newark, San Diego, and Austin (Texas).
Overall public opposition to sanctuary policies is extremely high. According to one Roper survey, some 88 percent of Americans believe that local police should report all illegal aliens of whom they are aware to immigration officials.