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Legal issues surrounding sanctuary cities likely to increase under President Trump, P.1

Earlier this week, news came out of California that an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador had filed a lawsuit against the city and county of San Francisco, as well as several law enforcement officers, for arresting him in 2015 and turning him over to federal immigration authorities after turned up at a local police station to retrieve his stolen vehicle. Police reportedly contacted federal immigration authorities after running a background check and finding that the man has a 10-year old outstanding warrant for deportation. He had also apparently been convicted of drunken driving in 2012.

Following his arrest, Immigration Customs Enforcement officials sought to put into effect a removal order from 2005 and the man subsequently sued San Francisco for damages and an injunction prohibiting its officers from helping federal immigration officials unless they are required by federal or state law to do so. Such stories are likely to become more commonplace under President Trump, as will discussion about sanctuary cities. 

The concept of sanctuary cities is a relatively new one in the United States, going back to the late 1970s. Local and state authorities justify limitations on enforcement of federal immigration laws on the basis that immigration law enforcement is the responsibility of the federal government.

Different sanctuary cities have different policies. San Francisco's policy, declared in 1985 and enacted as law in 1989, holds that law-abiding refugees will not be discriminated against based on immigration status by local authorities.  Officers who assist federal authorities in deporting law-abiding undocumented immigrants can be held to account, though it isn't yet clear in this case whether any officers will be disciplined.

In our next post, we'll take a look at the impending threat to sanctuary cities under President Trump, and how an experienced attorney can be of assistance to immigrants who are targeted by law enforcement violating sanctuary laws.


Digital Journal, "Undocumented man sues San Francisco over breach of sanctuary law," Arthur Weinreb, Jan. 19, 2017.

Yahoo News, Undocumented worker sues San Francisco for violating sanctuary law," Alex Dobuzinskis, Jan. 18, 2017.

The New American, "Illegal Alien Sues San Francisco for Violating Sanctuary City Law," Warren Mass, Jan. 19, 2017. 

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