The number of sanctuary cities and counties in the United States is increasing, even as President Donald Trump and states like Texas look to crack down on them. According to the latest data from the Ohio Jobs and Justice Political Action Committee (OJJ), which has been tracking sanctuary cities for many years, the number of sanctuary jurisdictions in the U.S. is now nearly 500. That includes 36 new jurisdictions added since the start of 2017.
The increase comes as some cities and counties seek to defy President Trump's increased enforcement of immigration laws. That despite a recent Harvard-Harris Poll that showed about 80 percent of American voters disapprove of sanctuary policies. "For the most part, the American public believes that our immigration laws need to be enforced sensibly and fairly, and that those laws exist to protect the vital interests of the American people," says Ira Mehlman with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has made cracking down on sanctuary cities a priority. He's already threatened to pull state funding from Travis County, after the new sheriff there announced her department will not cooperate with federal detainer requests for illegal aliens. "There are going to be loud voices coming from the citizenry asking these local politicians like the sheriff to explain why she would rather protect people who are in the country illegally, than see that these necessary functions of government are adequately funded," says Mehlman.
The Texas Senate has already approved a bill to punish sanctuary jurisdictions, and the House is now considering it. The Trump Administration is also considering withholding federal funds to cities and states that refuse to cooperate with immigration law. Mehlman believes these actions will put pressure on local jurisdictions. "The local politicians are going to have to explain why they have chosen to grant sanctuary to people who are in the country illegally, rather than provide for the basic needs of their communities," he says.