Understanding Sanctuary Cities

How Cities Protect Their Residents

Our Partnership

In recent years, there has been a growing movement among a variety of municipalities to attempt to disentangle their own law enforcement efforts from federal immigration enforcement tactics. We explored the different manifestations of this trend, along with the legal and policy justifications behind it, as part of a collaboration with academic partners like the University of Minnesota. Through this joint effort, the researchers sought to illuminate policy avenues and community programming that could improve the efficacy of local law enforcement in matters of immigration.

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About the Project

In this project, we examined the series of reforms undertaken by so-called "sanctuary cities" in the effort to ensure immigrants aren't deported when they come into contact with the criminal justice system. Led by law professors working at the intersection of immigration and criminal law, we began with a look at the Trump administration's large-scale deportation plans and campaign to "crack down" on sanctuary cities.

With that in mind, we then explored the diverse methods cities have used in the hope of protecting their residents and refusing to participate in the current immigration agenda. Once those methods were outlined, we then analyzed the legal and political justifications behind these policies, and the way those justifications evolved over time. In doing all this, we developed insights into how sanctuary cities can be effective and protected in a hostile political environment.

The project was a collaboration between professors at the University of Denver; University of California, Irvine; University of Minnesota; University of Tulsa; Lewis & Clark Law School; and New England Law.

Discover Research at DU

Christopher Lasch

Christopher Lasch is a professor at DU's Sturm College of Law. As an attorney with decades of experience working in criminal law and civil rights issues, he has taught numerous clinics at institutions including Yale Law School and Suffolk University. His scholarship focuses on the availability of constitutional remedies in federal habeas and state postconviction litigation, and on the intersection of criminal and immigration law.