Maintaining Sanctuary Cities and States

Letter to Attorney General Sessions Regarding Sanctuary Cities

February 15, 2018

I am outraged at comments made by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen during a Senate committee hearing confirming that DHS has requested that the Department of Justice investigate whether it is possible to arrest state and local elected officials in so-called “Sanctuary” cities and states.

It is my understanding that there is no precedent or legal basis for arresting an elected official for acting in accordance with the interests of their constituents and signing and enacting laws put forth by their legislature. DHS has argued that elected officials who serve in localities that have chosen to limit the obligation of their local governments to enforce federal immigration law are “harboring illegal aliens” and thus breaking the law. This argument is patently false as well as unconstitutional; choosing not to require local and state governments to carry out the responsibilities of federal agencies should not be equated with concealing undocumented people, and the Supreme Court has stated clearly that the federal government cannot require state and local officers to act as proxies for their agents.

I sincerely hope that the office of the US Attorney General recognizes that while DHS may desire to exert control over local governments, the Constitution prevents them from doing so. I also hope that you recognize the basic threat to our democracy that such a request represents. That an elected official acting within their official capacity and at the behest of their constituents would face the prospect of arrest is both deeply sad and deeply disturbing.