What Is a Sanctuary City Anyway?

What is a sanctuary city?

A sanctuary city is a place that has decided to keep local resources to solve local problems. Some people think “sanctuary” means the city is harboring fugitives. That’s a misunderstanding of the term. A better term than sanctuary might be local control or safe city. I’ll use the terms sanctuary city and safe city interchangeably. A sanctuary city has limited the extent to which it will volunteer resources in support of federal immigration enforcement agents’ responsibility to enforce federal immigration law. These limits can take many forms: saying no to federal requests (known as “detainers”) to conduct joint patrols, refusing to jail an individual who has posted bond and a judge has said can be released, or refusing to gather more information—such as immigration status—than is needed to determine if an individual is eligible to receive services.

SANCTUARY NOW! For Human Rights and COVID-19 Crisis Relief

The lack of a Sanctuary County Ordinance to protect the rights and lives of immigrants in Marin County amounts to inhumane collective punishment of tens of thousands of Marin County residents, families, and workers that are forced into the shadows of second class citizenship, isolated and segregated from the rest of the county and unable to access the basic services and necessities available to them. 


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TRUTH Act Forum, Tuesday July 9th @ 5:30pm

Last December, ICE Out of Marin, in partnership with multiple grassroots partners and the Marin County Board of Supervisors, organized Marin County’s first TRUTH Act Forum.  By any measure, it was a tremendous success, with hundreds of Marin residents showing up to support Marin County immigrants.

We proved that Marin County Sheriff Robert Doyle is sensitive to outside pressure.  Just days before the TRUTH Act Forum took place, Sheriff Doyle announced a shift in Marin County Sheriff’s Office policy which would limit the circumstances under which he would contact ICE.  This is significant because the Marin County Jail is the main source of deportations in Marin.

Since then, the Sheriff has reported a substantial drop in the number of Marin County inmates picked up by ICE from the Marin County jail.  Upon closer inspection, however, we have many questions about whether or not inmates transferred to ICE were transferred even though they may have had no convictions, only open charges.  This is not in the spirit of SB 54 and is allowing our Sheriff to act as judge, jury, and executioner.  Unchanged is that ICE still picks up inmates from inside the County Jail.  ICE is still proactively notified of upcoming release dates. 

If those numbers are what they seem, we should be pleased that our pressure has pushed Sheriff Doyle in the right direction.  Nevertheless, the changes made by the Marin County Sheriff’s Office are not enough.  

We must keep the pressure on Sheriff Doyle to STOP ALL COOPERATION WITH ICE!

The Marin County Board of Supervisors has agreed to host a 2nd TRUTH Act Forum on Tuesday, July 9th at 5:30pm in the Board of Supervisors chambers.  This is an important opportunity to keep the pressure on Sheriff Doyle to keep all Marin residents safe – including immigrants.

Marin Co. Sheriff under fire for ICE cooperation

Marin TRUTH Act Forum

Damon Connolly’s Closing Statement

December 6, 2018 – Marin County Supervisor Damon Connolly made a strong closing statement at Marin County’s TRUTH Act Community Forum. It was a fitting end to an inspiring evening, as dozens of passionate and well-informed members of the public urged Sheriff Robert Doyle to halt all cooperation with ICE.

Damon Connolly:

I would like to see further policy change.  The warm handoff of a person to ICE in the booking area before the person is released has the effect of an in-custody transfer in my view.  (audience applause) The Values Act bars the sheriff from transferring an individual to immigration authorities unless there is a judicial warrant or in the case of an enumerated serious or violent felony.  There could be different interpretations of what qualifies as a transfer, as noted by county counsel, but I’m looking at the spirit of the law.  I believe the better policy, in line with the spirit of SB54, is not to provide a warm handoff transfer to ICE at the jail.  ICE should conduct its business outside of the jurisdiction of the sheriff without any help from the sheriff’s office.

Priority Talking Points
  • We recognize the humanity and value of every person who calls Marin their home, no matter their background, what they look like, or where they were born. Immigrants are our friends, our family members, our co-workers, our neighbors, and us.
  • Every single person deserves fair treatment in our legal system. We need to make sure we uphold due process rights for everyone, including immigrants. If we erode due process for some, it is threatened for all.
  • Sheriff Doyle has transferred 133 people to ICE since 2017. These people are taken directly into ICE custody without ever being released from the secure areas of the jail. He also publishes release dates and calls ICE to inform them of inmates’ status.
  • Sheriff Doyle does this entirely by choice, against the wishes of the community he represents. He has no obligation to cooperate in these ways, and many California sheriffs have chosen not to do so.
  • The Sheriff’s actions are out of step with our values, and they are out of step with California’s sanctuary laws. They clearly undermine the spirit of SB 54, the California Values Act, despite the fact that Marin strongly supports SB 54’s sanctuary protections.
We Call On The Sheriff To:
Cease cooperating voluntarily with ICE and its efforts to target, detain, and deport Marin County residents. This includes:


  • Immediately end the practice of publicizing personal information, including release dates, of those in the jail’s custody on the Booking Log website.
  • Immediately end the practice of responding to I-247 forms from ICE requesting personal information about those in the jail’s custody.
  • Immediately end the practice of proactively calling and responding to calls from ICE requesting release dates and other information about those in the jail’s custody.
  • Stop providing ICE any access to the jail or those in the jail’s custody without a judicial warrant.
We Call On The Board of Supervisors To:
If the Sheriff will not change his actions to align with Marin’s values, we ask that the Board of Supervisors will. Use your authority to pass a Sanctuary County Ordinance that would end deportations in Marin.


  • Set a goal to end deportations in Marin by decreasing the number of people turned over to ICE to zero.
  • Encourage local law enforcement (including the District Attorney) to put fewer Marin residents at risk for deportation by not arresting or charging them for minor offenses.
  • Update the County Equity Plan to include immigrant justice. Currently the plan is silent on this issue.
  • Have a quarterly TRUTH Act Forum or comprehensive community update.
  • Establish a community oversight committee over the Marin County Sheriff’s Office, using your Sec. §25303 power.
Why This Matters For All Marin Residents
  • Sheriff Doyle and the Board of Supervisors are elected officials tasked with representing the needs of all Marin County residents. Their job is to protect the freedom and true safety of every person in our community. When their actions are out of line with these values, we expect them to hear us and change course.
  • With relentless attacks on immigrant communities coming from Washington DC, and military force being deployed as we speak against refugees and children at our border, we need to stand for compassion and shared humanity, and stand up against Sheriff Doyle’s cooperation with the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant agenda.
  • When local police and sheriffs act as deportation agents, that undermines trust and confidence in law enforcement, making our communities and families in Marin feel less safe. People are less likely to report crime when victims and witnesses fear they may be deported when they come in contact with local law enforcement
  • ICE does not belong in Marin, and it certainly does not need or deserve help from our local resources. ICE was created in 2003, and its purpose is to target, detain, and deport immigrants. Instead of increasing public safety, ICE has been used by the Trump administration to spread fear and carry out horrific abuses of power. It is the largest federal police force and its budget is more than that of all other federal law enforcement agencies combined.
  • Last year, Marin demonstrated overwhelming support for protecting immigrants in our community by rallying for SB 54. We declared that ICE’s actions do not align with our values of inclusion and true public safety and we would not use our local law enforcement in service of ICE’s dangerous agenda. In response to overwhelming public support, the Board of Supervisors sent a letter urging Governor Brown to sign SB 54 sanctuary protections into law.
  • We are a close-knit county, and our fates are tied to one another. We know that true freedom and security are not possible for any of us until everyone – including our immigrant family members, co-workers, and neighbors – can work, live, and build community here without fear of racial profiling, wrongful arrest, or deportation.
  • Share your story. Why do the safety and humanity of all people, keeping families together, and showing support for our immigrant neighbors and friends matter to you?

Get Involved!

Hold Sheriff Doyle and the Board of Supervisors Accountable for Cooperation with ICE

We Love Feedback

The first step in our campaign to get ICE out of Marin was to request that the Board of Supervisors schedule a TRUTH Act Community Forum to publicly acknowledge the various ways in which the Marin County Sheriff’s Office assists ICE with deporting Marin residents.

The Board of Supervisors agreed, and Marin County’s first TRUTH Act Community Forum was held on Thursday, December 6, 2018.

As we move into the next phase of our campaign to dismantle the Marin-to-ICE pipeline, we’d love to hear your comments and suggestions.

Does Marin County’s Sheriff cooperate with ICE?


It surprises many Marin County residents to discover that the Marin County Sheriff’s Office cooperates with ICE.  Often, their reaction is “I thought California was a sanctuary state.”

Here’s one example of how Marin’s Sheriff tilts the scales in favor of ICE. The Marin County jail publishes release dates and times for all inmates in custody on a single list that ICE can easily use to check for deportation targets. It is then a simple matter for ICE to arrive at the jail before an inmate is released.

In contrast, other Bay Area counties provide only a web-based inmate locator which requires you to search by name or booking number, so ICE is not able use a “shopping list” for targets. Both approaches fulfill the need to provide public information, but Marin’s Sheriff is helpful to ICE while other Bay Area counties are not.

When ICE arrives to pick up an inmate being released from the Marin County jail, the Marin County Sheriff’s office also facilitates the transfer to ICE officers by providing space in the booking area for the transfer to take place.

The Marin County Sheriff’s cooperation with ICE is discretionary, and that cooperation is provided to ICE whether an inmate has been convicted or not, regardless of the severity of the allegations, charges or conviction.