Defying the Trump Administration, Los Angeles Formally Declares Itself a ‘City of Sanctuary’

According to reporting from the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles City Council voted to approve a largely symbolic resolution declaring our community as a ‘City of Sanctuary’. While some immigration activists were frustrated by the city’s slow movement on the issue — the resolution was proposed nearly eighteen months ago —  it is still an important statement that defies the Trump Administration .

Sanctuary Status: What Does It Actually Mean?

There is a considerable amount of confusion regarding what a sanctuary city is and what it is not. This is completely understandable; the term “sanctuary city” technically does not have a true formal legal meaning. It is used in a number of different ways. Further, in some ways, the term is a bit of a misnomer. A sanctuary city cannot provide its residents with full protection against immigration enforcement.

The best definition of a sanctuary city is used in reference to non-federal jurisdictions — state governments or local governments — that have put restrictions on the cooperation/interactions between their law enforcement officers/agencies and federal immigration enforcement agencies. For example, there are considerable restrictions on cooperation between the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

To be clear, a city having sanctuary status, such as Los Angeles, does not mean that undocumented immigrants will never be deported. Quite the contrary, deportations can and do happen in sanctuary cities. Federal immigration officers may still conduct major enforcement operations within these jurisdictions. As reported by the Daily Beast last year, ICE has even conducted targeted raids against sanctuary cities. If your loved one was detained by immigration officers, please contact a deportation lawyer in Los Angeles immediately.

Los Angeles Already Sued the Trump Administration to Protect Its Sanctuary Status

The Trump Administration has previously tried to pressure Los Angeles — and several other major cities including Chicago and San Francisco — to give up their sanctuary status. In 2017, former Attorney General Jeff Session announced that the Trump Administration was cutting off millions of dollars in law enforcement funds to sanctuary cities. In total, nearly $385 million in grant money was to be withheld, including more than $10 million meant for Los Angeles.


Last April, a California federal judge ruled in favor of Los Angeles — determining that the Trump Administration cannot coerce local governments to drop their sanctuary status. Many other cities around the country also filed similar lawsuits against the administration. In most, but not all cases, the local governments prevailed against the federal government. Though, these cases may eventually make their way to the Supreme Court of the United States.  

We Fight for Immigrants in Los Angeles

At the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, we handle all types of immigration law issues. If you or your family member needs help from a immigration lawyer in Los Angeles, please call us. Initial consultations are always fully private. We serve communities in Los Angeles County and throughout Southern California.