Is a Sanctuary City Immune from ICE

August 27, 2018

Across America, sanctuary cities, and states, like New York City, and various cities in New Jersey have popped up.


Yet, ICE is still arresting people.  What gives?  Is this a case of politicians speaking out of both sides of their mouths?  


ICE is a Federal agency.  Federal agencies have free reign to operate throughout the U.S. and state and local governments cannot stop them.  


BUT they can mute their effect.  

What does this mean?  According to ICE, there are over 20,000 ICE agents both in and outside the United States.  Of that group, a smaller number are actual deportation officers.  (there are different units with different missions in ICE).


INA 287(g) gives local law enforcement the ability to assist ICE in its operations.  This assistance was typically used after a criminal arrest of an undocumented immigrant.  287(g) is a force multiplier.  


Local governments do not have to participate in 287(g), and sanctuary cities don't.  They do everything in their power to prevent the flow of information to ICE, who can use it for purposes beyond the scope of what the local government had intended it be used.  



One way in which sanctuary cities mute ICE's reach, is by not cooperating with ICE detainers, a request when ICE suspects that an individual in custody is not a U.S. Citizen.  ICE detainers are not warrants.  They are simply requests.  Local governments are free to cooperate or not.  Sanctuary cities do not cooperate.  Others cooperate only on the most serious crimes, like New York City.  


ICE still operates

Despite this non-cooperation, local governments cannot stop ICE from operating in their jurisdiction.  But it is harder and much less efficient.  Enforcement in these cases is typically prioritized, as it should be, to individuals with the most serious criminal issues.  


I've anecdotally heard of ICE picking people up at criminal and civil court hearings.  I even spoke to a personal injury attorney who said his client was detained at trial (for an injury he sustained on the job.)


INA 287(g) discourages immigrants from seeking police protection in domestic abuse situations, and discourages witnesses in criminal matters.  


If you or someone you know is, or could be affected by local law enforcement cooperation with ICE, or if you have any further questions, connect with me on my facebook page, or visit




Please reload

Recent Posts

Please reload


Please reload


Please reload

Our Locations

2125 Center Ave

Suite 314

Fort Lee, NJ 07024

(201) 448-9837 (Phone)

(201) 479-1162  (Fax)

(Send All Correspondence to NJ Office)

(By Appointment Only)

305 Broadway 

Suite 1422

New York, NY 10007