San Francisco district attorney Kamala Harris is able to pursue many cases under the city’s “sanctuary” policy, which forbids police and city officials from asking people they encounter in the course of an investigation about their immigration status, says the New York Times. Harris says the protection has made immigrants – legal and illegal – more willing to come to forward about crimes. Critics argue that sanctuary policies discourage the police from enforcing laws, though about 50 cities and counties have enacted variations of them, says to the National Immigration Law Center. They include Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, D.C. Some have similar policies, including Alaska, Maine, and Oregon.
Conservative legal groups and politicians are challenging such policies. On the other side, cities like Chicago will avoid involving their police in issues that smack of federal immigration enforcement. While a federal proposal to punish sanctuary cities recently failed to become law, some states have passed laws discouraging sanctuary policies. “To say to a law enforcement official, if you encounter a foreign national who is in this country illegally and you believe that information would be of use and benefit to federal authorities, that you can't call them, that's just wrong,” said Rep. John Campbell (R-CA).