Sanctuary Cities Take Starring Role In GOP Campaign Ads

Republican candidates at every level are campaigning to end sanctuary cities.
Posted at 6:07 PM, Oct 30, 2018

The future of sanctuary cities continues to be a political football in the 2018 midterms, especially if you're a Republican.

"An illegal immigrant sexually assaulted a child in Carrboro. ICE wanted to deport him, but Orange County released him, like a sanctuary city."

"A young woman gunned down by an illegal immigrant who should've been deported but was protected by a sanctuary city."

"I'll end sanctuary cities to stop illegals from taking our jobs."

It's become a divisive topic between both sides of the aisle, with Democrats accusing their opponents of race-baiting and fearmongering. But why are voters hearing so much about sanctuary cities now, especially from President Trump?

"He feels that it energizes his base and gets them out to vote," said Washington Post immigration reporter Maria Sacchetti. "It's what your seeing right now on the campaign trail. Today it was birthright citizenship, other days it's about asylum. Immigration is a big issue for Republicans."

Even though there isn't an official definition, a sanctuary city can refer to any jurisdiction that doesn't cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. Some examples include San Francisco and Chicago, both of which have stood firm in their sanctuary city status under Trump and refuse to change their policy — demonstrating how divisive the issue has become. 

A Gallup poll taken in June shows that Americans are split on sanctuary cities, with 27 percent strongly in favor and 23 percent in favor of banning them. When those figures are broken down by party, the difference is striking. A CBS survey from March shows that 23 percent of Republicans believe cities should be able to deal with immigration as they see fit, while 70 percent of Democrats do. 

"It's something that will probably be continued at the local level in both ways. People will try to restrict cooperation with ICE. In San Francisco and Chicago, it's gotten beyond that to include whole states like Illinois and California. And then you'll see the flip side of that, which is Texas and other states where they're mandating that locals cooperate with ICE," Sacchetti said.

Under the Trump administration, there's also been an increase in the number of anti-sanctuary cities, which are jurisdictions that agree to have local law enforcement act like immigration officers. Between January 2017 and October 2018, the amount went from 36 to 78.