With the immigration and travel bans recently enacted, the question has come up "what exactly is a sanctuary city?" and "do we have any in New York State?" It seems like this topic is loaded with political opinions and connotations, but we are going to try to present it without offering any judgement whether it's a good thing or a bad thing.

To start with, what is a sanctuary city or county? According to Wikipedia:

A sanctuary city is a municipality that has adopted a policy of protecting undocumented immigrants by not prosecuting them for violating federal immigration laws in the country in which they are now living. (Wikipedia.com)

While this definition seems pretty clear, it does not have any actual legal meaning. Cities or counties that are considered "sanctuary" have essentially refused to inquire about a person's immigration status, and will not arrest or imprison anyone based on that status alone. President Trump has now stated that sanctuary jurisdictions that refuse to uphold immigration law will be defunded.

Sanctuary Cities
CIS via Google Maps

Are there sanctuary cities in New York State? According to the Center for Immigration Studies, 8 counties in New York are considered "sanctuaries". In upstate, Onondaga County, Wayne County, Rensselaer County, Saratoga County, St. Lawrence County and Franklin County currently have sanctuary policies in place.

Is Utica a Sanctuary City? No. While Utica has become a haven for refugees, it is based on legal immigration.There doesn't appear to be a specific plan in place to ignore federal immigration law.

So with all that, do you support a city's right to be a sanctuary? Do you support the President's plan to defund those cities?


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