Deliberation: Sanctuary Cities

Lesson Duration

From Street Law

Should cities or counties be able to declare themselves “sanctuaries” and refuse to cooperate with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement detainer requests?

Current conflicts between the states and the federal government have arisen over the President Trump’s ban on travelers from seven countries and whether local governments can declare themselves “sanctuaries” for undocumented immigrants.

In all of these disputes between state or local governments and the federal government, the federal government argues that it has complete control of immigration law—that the Constitution empowers Congress to make immigration law, and those laws empower the executive branch to enforce them with wide discretion. The states, on the other hand, argue that they are the ones directly impacted by the presence, absence, or prosecution of immigrants and that they must have the power to set policies to make their communities safe and prosperous.

This is a topic that many people are passionate about, AND it is an excellent way to explore issues of federalism in class. Street Law’s new deliberation materials provide classroom-ready readings presenting the issue background and arguments on both sides.

Go to: Street Law Resource Library ( Use the filters on the left side of the page to find what you need: Select “Lesson Plan/ Activity” under the “Type” category, then look alphabetically for “Deliberation: Sanctuary Cities.”

Deliberation Guide and Student Handouts:


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