A new study by the Center for Immigration Studies has found that there are now more than 200 so-called “sanctuary cities,” cities like San Francisco, which have policies that allow them to avoid cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

Along with a map of showing all of the sanctuary cities, CIS posted the following explanation, which notes that though it’s illegal for local municipalities to comply with federal law, the Department of Justice has never taken any measure to enforce the law, In fact, CIS points out, the Obama administration has deliberately made it more difficult for those cities and counties that attempt to obey federal law:

More than 200 cities, counties and states across the United States are considered sanctuary cities. These state and local jurisdictions have policies, laws, executive orders, or regulations allowing them to avoid cooperating with federal immigration law enforcement authorities. These “cities” ignore federal law authorizing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to administratively deport illegal aliens without seeking criminal warrants or convictions from federal, state, or local courts. Although federal law requires the cooperation, the Department of Justice has never sued or taken any measure, including denying federal funds, against a jurisdiction. On the contrary, the present administration has made it difficult for the states and localities which choose to aid in enforcing immigration laws. Federal law was labelled voluntary by the administration in a November 2014 policy memorandum signed by the Homeland Security Secretary.

CIS Director of Policy Studies Jessica Vaughan said that, depending on how one defines “sanctuary city,” the number could in fact be over 300. “One could also argue that any jurisdiction that provides drivers licenses, or welfare benefits, or public housing, or municipal ID cards is a sanctuary,” Vaughan explained.

The issue of sanctuary cities has entered the national spotlight after the killing of Kate Steinle by a five-times deported illegal immigrant who had multiple felonies on his record. Several lawmakers—particularly Republicans, like Sen. Jeff Sessions—are calling for changes to federal response to sanctuary cities, with the potential of criminal charges against those city and county officials who fail to comply with federal detainer and hold requests.

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