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Published August 30, 2015

Trump Card: North Carolina Sanctuary Cities for Immigration

Immigration Reform has been the hot topic of debate with the new 2016 Republican presidential candidates. Recent remarks made by presidential candidate Donald “The Trumpet” Trump, claim that Mexican authorities are taking advantage of the United States by using illegal immigration to export crime and poverty.

It’s a controversial issue that weighs heavily on both sides. With this issue hot in the headlines, the case of sanctuary cities came into the spotlight with the recent death of Kate Steinle in San Francisco.

Kate Steinle was the victim of Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez, an illegal immigrant, who shot and killed her in front of her family.

Sanchez had a prior criminal record of seven felony convictions and had been deported five times from the United States. Due to the fact that Sanchez was living in a sanctuary city, the federal authorities were not notified of his release.

So what is a sanctuary city?

It’s a designation given to cities that have local policies, resolutions, executive orders, or city ordinances put in place to limit assistance given to federal immigration authorities. Because it’s not a legal term, the policies implemented can vary according to local policing practices for each city. These policies follow certain procedures that shelters illegal immigrants and do not permit municipal funds or resources to be applied in the enforcement of federal immigration laws.

Most of these cities do not permit local law enforcement or employers to inquire on ones immigration status. Sanctuary cities came about in the 1980’s after the City of Los Angeles told it’s police force to stop questioning people regarding their immigration status. This order was put in place in the hopes to encourage immigrant communities to work with police without having the fear of deportation and to help improve relationships with law enforcement and the community.

RELATED: Human Trafficking And Sex Slavery In North Carolina.

North Carolina ranks 11th among those states impacted by illegal immigration. Governor Pat McCrory has publicly opposed the idea of sanctuary cities and stated there is no place in North Carolina for them.

While attending the 2015 Annual Training Conference of the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association held on July 28th, Governor McCory stated:

  • I don’t believe in the concept of sanctuary cities because every law enforcement officer is sworn to uphold not only the constitutional law of North Carolina but also the laws of the United States, and that includes immigration laws. I don’t believe anyone should give sanctuary in any part of our state and nation where we are not enforcing the laws, especially toward people who continue to commit violent crimes.

But despite Governor McCory’s opposition, North Carolina has several towns and cities that reportedly have been labeled a “sanctuary city.” These towns and cities have publicly passed resolutions and or city ordinances outlining municipal policies regarding immigration status and violations.



The Asheville City Council passed the “Civil Liberties Resolution” in 2013 regarding illegal immigrants. The resolution states, “The City of Asheville opposes any efforts to transfer federal immigration responsibility to state and local officials, since these proposals tax our already overburdened police department and damage relationships with immigrant communities.” The resolution implements the promotion of tolerance and respect for all persons and rejects profiling of any group and the city does not actively participate in the enforcement of federal immigration law. The resolution also states, “In accordance with Asheville Police Department policy, if officers stop a driver of a motor vehicle who cannot produce a valid operator’s license and a computer check show the driver has no license issuance information, a citation is sufficient enforcement action.” The City of Asheville Civil Liberties Resolution can be found here.



The Charlotte-Mecklenburg law enforcement agency’s stance on immigration issues states in a directive that “CMPD will not undertake immigration related investigations and will not inquire into the immigration status of persons encountered during police operations.” However, the policy does allow police officials to investigate the immigration status of suspected gang affiliates.


Chapel Hill

The town of Chapel Hill adopted Resolution No. 3a (3). According to Resolution No. 3a(3), a policy was established states, “The Chapel Hill Police Department will not seek to arrest persons when the sole basis for arresting such person is that such persons have or may have committed a civil immigration violation.” The resolution also states that the Town of Chapel Hill is “committed to the human and civil rights of its residents and to actions that preserve and protect those rights in voting to protect its residents against unconstitutional actions.” The full text of the resolution can be found here.



The City of Durham adopted Resolution #9048 on October 20, 2003 supporting the rights of persons regardless of immigration status. The resolution indicated the Durham Police Department issued a General Order that outlines “that Durham Police officers may not request specific documents for the sole purpose of determining a person’s civil immigration status, and may not initiate police action based solely on a person’s civil immigration status.” The resolution also prohibits any Durham City officer or employee from cooperating and sharing information with federal or state authorities and other governmental entities or engage in activities designed to ascertain the immigration status of any person. A copy of the resolution can be found here.



Carrboro is among one of the first municipalities in the south to adopt resolutions opposing the USA Patriot Act. The Board of Aldermen passed Resolution 108/2001-02 on March 5, 2002. The resolution calls for the reform of U.S. Immigration Law and Policy. This resolution outlines the increasingly essential need of immigrant workers to fill a wide range of jobs. National immigration policy is in conflict with Carrboro’s current workforce needs and values. In addition, the mayor and Board of Aldermen passed a policy on May 16, 2007 stating, “The Carrboro Police Department will not seek to arrest persons when the sole basis for arresting such persons is that such persons have or may have committed a civil immigration violation.” An outline of Resolution 108/2001-02 can be found here.

Just recently, Carrboro passed the Resolution Supporting and Welcoming Unaccompanied Immigrant Minors Fleeing Violence in their Home Countries on November 18, 2014. Carrboro wants their community represented as caring and compassionate in welcoming minors seeking refuge from violence in their home countries. You can find out more information on their website.



The City of Raleigh officially became a “Welcoming City” on May 6, 2014. The Proclamation states that the City of Raleigh “recognizes that cities that proactively welcome immigrants and take steps to ensure their successful integration will be strategically positioned as globally competitive, 21st century leaders.” A copy of the Proclamation can be found here.

RELATED: NC Senator Jeffreys: The Man Buried In A Rock.

Trump Card-- North Carolina Sanctuary Cities for Immigration - 1


Do you live in one of North Carolina’s sanctuary or welcoming cities? How do you feel about Donald Trump’s stance on immigration? Weigh in on the conversation in the comments!

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  • Hope Thompson


  • Trying to educate the world one SLICE OF HISTORY at a time! Hope Thompson is a freelance journalist focused on hidden history, Southern & Appalachian folklife, and Native American culture. She is a native of North Carolina and has been writing for this space for four years. She currently works in state government finance and owns a graphic design business. All my articles.

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