Sanctuary policies 101: ICE out of local jails, policing, schools, places of worship and work

The prospect of a Trump presidency has galvanized a new sanctuary movement throughout the country, with especially vibrant efforts at schools and places of faith.  States, cities and counties also have recognized their particular responsibility to reject the deportation business.

For over a decade, NDLON has worked with immigrant communities across the country to advance local policies rejecting ICE collusion with local law enforcement. There is no perfect, one-size-fits-all model for protecting ourselves and our communities. This is the time for creativity and courage.  But the components below can provide some guidance.

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What are you looking for?

Check out the policies adopted by these campuses, see organizing case studies, and keep up to date on sanctuary campus news.
Sanctuary in Places of Worship
Sanctuary in Your Locality
See the ICE out of California website to see a state-level campaign and the CA Values Act to see the most powerful anti deportation bill moving yet.

Components of Sanctuary Policies:

  1. A bright line between police and immigration enforcement. Local and school law enforcement should not be involved in deportations. Period. At a minimum, this means a policy acknowledging that they have no authority to enforce federal civil immigration law and declaring that they will not participate in immigration enforcement efforts of federal authorities.  This means they will not hold people on ICE detainers, respond to ICE notification or transfer requests, make arrests based on civil immigration warrants, or allow ICE to use their facilities for immigration enforcement purposes.  

Hundreds of examples of city, state, and county policies enforcing such limitations are available at  Strong policies include Chicago, San Francisco, and New Orleans.  Universities with similar policies include Cal State Long Beach and Wesleyan University.
  2. A strict confidentiality policy that protects personal information from use by federal immigration authorities. Many are concerned that, under a Trump presidency, confidential information could be used for purposes of immigration enforcement.  Local agencies should consider establishing broad confidentiality policies, making clear that information is collected and disseminated only where necessary, and only for purposes consistent with specific functions. Some localities may be concerned that some such policies could run afoul of 8 U.S.C. §§ 1373 and 1644, which prohibit some types of policies that restrict sharing information about immigration status.  For more information about Sections 1373 and 1644 and the types of confidentiality policies they do and do not affect, see or contact NDLON.
  3. A prohibition on federal immigration authorities entering protected spaces for immigration enforcement purposes.  Under current DHS policy, immigration authorities are not supposed to conduct immigration enforcement at sensitive locations, including schools.  This policy has a number of loopholes, and is not robustly followed, even today.  Under a Trump Administration, it may be abandoned entirely.  But schools and other sensitive locations can adopt their own policies limiting federal immigration agent’s access to campus.  For some examples, check out the statement from Columbia University’s provost, as well as the Los Angeles Unified School District policy and the recent Culver City resolution.

For more information, contact us here.