Options for Sanctuary Cities

Sean Rush

Before I lay out a list of alternatives for Sanctuary Cities, I would like to preface by stating that these options are not for or against, but merely unbiased descriptions of alternatives from both the right and left side of the United States’ party system. These are the options:

  1. The first option, or alternative, for Sanctuary Cities we’ll discuss in this memo was suggested by a member of President Trump’s cabinet. Stephen Miller, who serves as a senior advisor for policy to the president, came out in 2019 with a plan to release migrants from Central America into sanctuary cities.  According to the plan, as outlined by Shikha Dalmia, asylum seekers and immigrants would be issued worker’s permits that allow them to work in designated sanctuary cities (Dalmia, 2019). The costs would be that these migrants and asylum seekers would need permission to leave their designated areas of work. The benefits would be that it would be a better option than detention centers, and would allow sanctuary cities to operate as usual.
  2. The second option, or alternative, for sanctuary cities we’ll discuss in this memo was suggested by Attorney General William Barr. His proposal is towards halting or delaying action for migrants and asylum seekers to immigrate to the United States.  According to Shikha Dalmia, Barr’s proposal is to hold migrants for years and years and backlog them through the asylum courts in an effort to fatigue them out of the court system. In addition, he will not allow singles and childless families to post bond. This, he hopes, will end the process of catch-and-release. The costs from this alternative are basically an inhumane way of treating asylum seekers and migrants. The benefits would be that there would be fewer immigrants in the country, and less of a reason to continue sanctuary jurisdictions.
  3. The third option, or alternative, for sanctuary cities we’ll discuss in this memo was proposed by Vice President and Presidential Candidate, Joe Biden. Found on his website, Joe Biden lays out a plan for a pathway towards citizenship for undocumented immigrants. The Vice President states that he will modernize the immigration system. He will do this by providing “a road map to citizenship for the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants, reform the temporary visa system, provide a path to legalization for agricultural workers, and increase the number of visas offered for permanent, work based immigration…(The Biden Plan For Securing Our  Values As A Nation of Immigrants).” This plan has its costs and benefits. The costs being that it does not provide much of an option for those who are against immigration in this country. The benefits would be that it would expand economic opportunity and increase options for legal immigration. Another benefit would be that faster and easier pathways to citizenship might decrease the need for undocumented asylum seeking and sanctuary cities. It would also mean that less money would need to go towards federal programs like ICE, and money for that program could dip into other federal programs like education or health.


Dalmia, Shikha. “Sanctuary Cities Should Hope That Stephen Miller Makes Good on His Threats.” Reason.com. Reason, April 22, 2019. https://reason.com/2019/04/23/sanctuary-cities-should-hope-that-stephen-miller-makes-good-on-his-threats/.

“The Biden Plan for Securing Our Values as a Nation of Immigrants.” Joe Biden for President: Official Campaign Website, August 5, 2020. https://joebiden.com/immigration/.

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