Advancing Justice | AAJC and Advancing Justice | Chicago File Amicus Brief in Support of Sanctuary Cities

January 9, 2018

Advancing Justice | AAJC and Advancing Justice | Chicago File Amicus Brief
in Support of Sanctuary Cities

Groups Say No Sanctuary Cities Equals Increased Crime and Victimization

Washington, D.C. — Today, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC and Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago, with pro bono counsel McDermott Will & Emery LLP, filed an amicus brief in support of cities with pro-immigrant policies (also known as Sanctuary or Trust cities) and who work toward protecting immigrants from being victimized by crime and over-reaching involvement from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

Under the stewardship of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, DOJ sent letters to many of these sanctuary cities, counties, and states who have pro-immigrant policies threatening them with loss of funding if they do not cooperate with the Department of Homeland Security’s increased immigration enforcement efforts.

“As a former undocumented immigrant, I know first-hand the difficulties of my family being a victim of crime but unable to report it for fear of being further victimized by law enforcement and the government seeking to deport me and my family,” said John C. Yang, president and executive director of Advancing Justice | AAJC. “Unless we have Sanctuary and Trust cities who stand up to promote policies that are supportive of immigrant communities and encourage reporting of victimization without retribution, we are only hurting the public safety of all in our communities.”

A number of Governors, Mayors, and other city leaders have refused to report undocumented immigrants and openly criticized the administration for increasing the potential victimization of undocumented citizens while promoting xenophobia and hatred. These leaders understand that if an individual distrusts the police and does not come forward, it becomes harder to identify and prosecute the people who are committing crimes, and those criminals go on to victimize others. Chicago and other jurisdictions maintain they are complying with the federal law but will not actively work against their own cities’ community policing policies and efforts.

“The Trump Administration wants to paint all undocumented immigrants as criminals which is not only morally reprehensible but also factually incorrect,” Tuyet Le, executive director of Advancing Justice | Chicago. “With the Trust Act, Illinois is now the gold standard for statewide protections against deportation. By protecting immigrant families we are also enhancing public safety across the state of Illinois.”

Among sanctuary cities across the country, the Illinois Trust Act prohibits local law enforcement from collaborating with federal immigration enforcement agents to detain anyone without a judicial warrant. This law provides an unprecedented level of protection for Illinois’ half-million undocumented residents who could otherwise enter the deportation pipeline through any simple interaction with police including a traffic violation.

Public safety depends on people being willing to report and testify about crimes they either experience or witness. Immigrants who are victimized need to trust they can report the crime, and if they trust the police they will be more willing to provide information on crime conditions and to cooperate with police even during involuntary contact. Communities in which the residents feel they must avoid local law enforcement are less safe – for everyone.


Michelle Boykins, 202-296-2300, ext. 0144 (DC)
Brandon Lee, 773-271-0899 x200 (Chicago)


Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC and Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago are two of five organizations that comprise the Asian Americans Advancing Justice national affiliation who advocate for the civil and human rights of Asian Americans and other underserved communities to promote a fair and equitable society for all. The affiliation’s members are: Advancing Justice | AAJC (Washington, DC), Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus (San Francisco), Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, Advancing Justice – Atlanta, and Advancing Justice | Chicago.