April 12, 2017

After Sanctuary Cities Convening, 100+ Local Lawmakers Pledge To Uphold And Expand Sanctuary Policies

Open letter from Local Progress demonstrates growing national support in the face of growing White House threats

NEW YORK – On the heels of the country’s first-ever convening of municipal elected officials devoted to improving sanctuary city policies, more than 100 elected officials from nearly 65 cities across the country have signed on to an open letter pledging to defend their cities’ sanctuary policies and fight threatened federal cuts to their budgets, signaling the acceleration of a nationwide movement to protect communities from an expected federal attack on local governing authority.

The letter intensifies a campaign to defend sanctuary policies led by Local Progress, a national network of hundreds of legislators from cities, counties, and school boards, united in a common goal to build power on the local level and advance policies that promote diverse, sustainable, and prosperous cities. More than 40 lawmakers from the network came together in New York City in late March for the country’s first-ever conference devoted to expanding and fortifying sanctuary city policies.

“In the face of threats to deny funding to localities for advancing policies that keep communities safe and are undoubtedly lawful, we pledged to fight back together as one,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter. “Local lawmakers know what is best for our communities and we will not be cowed by federal attempts to commandeer local governments and local resources for a draconian and unjust immigration system.”

In January, President Trump signed an Executive Order to strip funding from so-called “sanctuary cities,” or those that refuse to force local police to carry out draconian federal immigration policies. Late last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions stepped up those threats, signaling the administration would move to roll back both new and existing funds from sanctuary cities. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, a Local Progress member, has launched a lawsuit against the Executive Order, calling it illegal and unconstitutional. Similar lawsuits have been launched by Santa Clara County and San Francisco.

The lawmakers joining the letter came from cities large and small, all over the country, including Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Minneapolis, Nashville, Phoenix, and St. Louis, among many others. Their support builds on a wave of defiance from mayors of the country’s largest cities following the Executive Order.

Sarah Johnson, Co-Executive Director of Local Progress, released the following statement:

“Sanctuary cities are standing strong in the face of the White House’s patently unconstitutional plan to use federal dollars to coerce and intimidate cities into adopting ineffective policy that will make them less safe. Cities should not be forced to be complicit in federal folly, cruelty, and injustice.”

The text of the letter can be found below:

April 12, 2017

An Open Letter to President Trump and Members of Congress:

President Trump, together with Republican members of Congress, have begun to implement a punitive and unconstitutional anti-immigrant agenda. In addition to promising to end the DACA program and depriving hundreds of thousands of immigrants of their dignity and security, as well as the ability to work and grow our economy, they have threatened to cut funding to local governments that are unwilling to subsidize or be co-opted by badly broken federal imperatives of mass deportation and family separation.

Hundreds of jurisdictions across the country have policies limiting local law enforcement from being co-opted to implement unjust federal immigration policy. These so-called “sanctuary” policies are ultimately about promoting community safety by treating all residents equally and refusing to alienate people we need to report crimes, serve as witnesses, and promote public health. We are committed to devoting local resources to local priorities and to upholding our Constitution.

Last month, Local Progress members came together in New York City to reaffirm our commitment to maintaining and expanding sanctuary policies. In the face of threats to deny funding to localities for advancing policies that are constitutional and that keep communities safe, we pledged to fight back together as one. Local lawmakers know what is best for their communities and will not be cowed by federal attempts to commandeer local governments and local resources for a draconian and unjust immigration system.

Today, as local elected officials committed to safe and inclusive communities for all of our residents, we are calling on members of Congress and Donald Trump to retreat from their threats.

These policies uphold the Constitution: Our cities and counties should not, and have absolutely no legal obligation to be involved in, federal immigration enforcement, and are completely within their rights to refuse to do so. ICE simply cannot violate the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution by encouraging local police to imprison immigrants without a warrant. Moreover, forcing cities to spend local resources enforcing an unfunded federal policy agenda also violates the Tenth Amendment, which prevents the federal government from coercing state and local governments to do their bidding.

Policies that welcome and include immigrants benefit all of us: These policies make it possible for victims and witnesses of crime to come forward without fear of retaliation. They foster trust between police and community members that many sheriffs and police chiefs have noted is crucial to their work and make our communities safer.

Enforcing federal immigration policy is the sole responsibility of the federal government: The Department of Homeland Security, not local governments, bears the responsibility for enforcing federal immigration policies. It receives billions in funding annually to carry out this obligation.

Our national immigration policies are unjust and broken: Current immigration law is unfair to the millions of hard working immigrants who are the backbone of our cities and economy. A significant majority of the American public supports reforming these policies, at the federal level, to help immigrants come out of the shadows. Congress should focus its energies on creating an immigration system that works, as opposed to holding localities hostage to an ineffective, illegal ideological agenda that hurts all of us and makes cities less safe.


Kathryn Kozak, Board Member (Flagstaff, AZ)

Channel Powe, Governing Board Member (Balsz, AZ)

Lauren Kuby, Councilmember (Tempe, AZ)

Isela Blanc, State Representative (Tempe, AZ)

Meghan Sahli-Wells, Councilmember (Culver City, CA)

Colin Parent, Councilmember (La Mesa, CA)

Mike Bonin, Councilmember (Los Angeles, CA)

Jonathan T. Wright, School District Trustee (Martinez, CA)

Libby Schaaf, Mayor (Oakland, CA)

Carmen Ramirez, Mayor Pro Tem (Oxnard, CA)

Gayle McLaughlin, Councilmember (Richmond, CA)

Hillary Ronen, Board of Supervisors (San Francisco, CA)

Kevin McKeown, Councilmember (Santa Monica, CA)

Paul Kashmann, Councilmember (Denver, CO)

Jordan Sauers, Councilmember (Northglenn, CO)

Darryl Brackeen Jr., Alderman (New Haven, CT)

Brianne K. Nadeau, Councilmember (Washington, DC)

Charles Allen, Councilmember (Washington, DC)

David Grosso, Councilmember (Washington, DC)

Karl Nurse, Councilmember (St. Petersburg, FL)

Andrew Gillum, Mayor (Tallahassee, FL)

Brian Hopkins, Alderman (Chicago, IL)

Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, Alderman (Chicago, IL)

Chris Taliaferro, Alderman (Chicago, IL)

David Moore, Alderman (Chicago, IL)

Gilbert Villegas, Alderman (Chicago, IL)

James Cappleman, Alderman (Chicago, IL)

Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, County Commissioner (Chicago, IL)

John Arena, Alderman (Chicago, IL)

Proco Joe Moreno, Alderman (Chicago, IL)

Raymond A. Lopez, Alderman (Chicago, IL)

Ricardo Muñoz, Alderman (Chicago, IL)

Roderick T. Sawyer, Alderman (Chicago, IL)

Scott Waguespack, Alderman (Chicago, IL)

Toni Foulkes, Alderman (Chicago, IL)

Susan Sadlowski Garza, Alderwoman (Chicago, IL)

Brian Miller, Alderman (Evanston, IL)

Kathleen Kelly, School Committee Member (Cambridge, MA)

Kelly Kent, School District Board Clerk (Cambridge, MA)

Alex Pratt, School Committee Member (Littleton, MA)

Kristerfer Burnet, Councilmember (Baltimore, MD)

Patrick Paschall, Councilmember (Hyattsville, MD)

Shani Warner, Councilmember (Hyattsville, MD)

Cam Gordon, City Councilmember (Minneapolis, MN)

Elizabeth Glidden, Council Vice President (Minneapolis, MN)

Jacob Frey, City Councilmember (Minneapolis, MN)

Lisa Bender, Councilmember (Minneapolis, MN)

Maria Regan Gonzalez, Councilmember (Richfield, MN)

Anne Mavity, City Councilmember (Saint Louis Park, MN)

Thom J. Miller, Councilmember (Saint Louis Park, MN)

Amy Brendmoen, Councilmember (Saint Paul, MN)

Dai Thao, Councilmember (Saint Paul, MN)

Jane Prince, City Councilmember (Saint Paul, MN)

Rebecca Noecker, Councilmember (Saint Paul, MN)

Russ Stark, City Council President (Saint Paul, MN)

Christine Ingrassia, Alderwoman (St. Louis, MO)

Megan Green, Alderwoman (St. Louis, MO)

Tishaura O. Jones, Treasurer (St. Louis, MO)

Charlie Reece, Councilmember (Durham, NC)

Jillian Johnson, Councilmember (Durham, NC)

Steve Schewel, Councilmember (Durham, NC)

Mara Salcido-Alcantar, School Board Secretary (Lovington, NM)

Dorcey Applyrs, Councilmember (Albany, NY)

Leah Golby, Councilmember (Albany, NY)

Antonio Reynoso, City Councilmember (Brooklyn, NY)

Carlos Menchaca, City Councilmember (Brooklyn, NY)

Stephen T. Levin, Councilmember (Brooklyn, NY)

Carmen J. Piñeyro, Trustee (Freeport, NY)

Gregory Young, Supervisor (Gloversville, NY)

Cynthia Brock, Alderwoman (Ithaca, NY)

Ducson Nguyen, Alderman (Ithaca, NY)

Genie Abrams, City Councilmember (Newburgh, NY)

Karen Mejia, Councilmember (Newburgh, NY)

Philip Howard, Board of Education Member (Newburgh, NY)

Ben Kallos, Councilmember (New York, NY)

Brad Lander, City Councilmember (New York, NY)

Jumaane D. Williams, Councilmember (New York, NY)

Sean Fitzpatrick, Councilmember (New York, NY)

Ydanis Rodriguez, Councilmember (New York, NY)

Catherine Borgia, Majority Leaders, Legislator (Ossining, NY)

Tom Wood, Town Councilor (Plattsburgh, NY)

Kari Rieser, County Legislator (Poughkeepsie, NY)

Molly Clifford, Councilmember (Rochester, NY)

John Bouvier, Councilmember (Southampton, NY)

Daniel Gordon, Councilmember (Bowling Green, OH)

Brian Cummins, Councilmember (Cleveland, OH)

Phyllis Cleveland, Councilmember (Cleveland, OH)

Tim Kovach, Air Quality Planner (Cleveland, OH)

Elizabeth Brown, City Councilmember (Columbus, OH)

John Litten, Councilmember (Lakewood, OH)

Steven C. Steel, City Council President (Toledo, OH)

Rachael Dorothy, Councilmember (Worthington, OH)

Helen Gym, City Councilmember At-Large (Philadelphia, PA)

William Peduto, Mayor (Pittsburgh, PA)

Marita Garrett, Councilmember (Wilkinsburg, PA)

Colby Sledge, Councilmember (Nashville, TN)

Will Pinkston, School Board Member (Nashville, TN)

Greg Casar, City Councilmember (Austin, TX)

Lily Limón, City Representative (El Paso, TX)

Zeph Capo, Trustee (Houston, TX)

Sara Giannoni, Councilmember (Burlington, VT)

Adrienne Fraley Monillas, City Councilmember (Edmonds, WA)

Nigel Herbig, Councilmember (Kenmore, WA)

Lisa Herbold, Councilmember (Seattle, WA)

Mike O’Brien, Councilmember (Seattle, WA)

Sally Bagshaw, Councilmember (Seattle, WA)

Tim Burgess, Councilmember (Seattle, WA)

Chris Roberts, Mayor (Shoreline, WA)

Ryan Mello, Councilmember (Tacoma, WA)

Verna Seal, Councilmember (Tukwila, WA)

Marina Dimitrijevic, County Supervisor (Milwaukee County, WI)

Tammy Bockhorst, Trustee (Village of Shorewood, WI)



Local Progress is a network of progressive local elected officials from around the country united by our shared commitment to equal justice under law, shared prosperity, sustainable and livable cities, and good government that serves the public interest. Local Progress is staffed by the Center for Popular Democracy.


The Center for Popular Democracy promotes equity, opportunity, and a dynamic democracy in partnership with innovative base-building organizations, organizing networks and alliances, and progressive unions across the country. CPD builds the strength and capacity of democratic organizations to envision and advance a pro-worker, pro-immigrant, racial justice agenda.