Head to Head: Fort Collins should become a sanctuary city

Leta McWilliams

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

In recent weeks, “sanctuary cities” have been gaining popularity in political conversations. People are unsure whether these sanctuary cities are constitutional, whether they’re beneficial and whether they’re necessary.


Sanctuary cities are all three, and there would be a lot of benefit for Fort Collins and Colorado State University if we became one.

Cities have a right to become Sanctuary cities, and are backed constitutionally by the tenth amendment, which states: “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” This means states have the right to have state laws that aren’t necessarily the federal law. This is the same amendment that is allowing states like Colorado to have legalized marijuana, which is significantly less important than the safety of the people living here. The tenth amendment allows for states to make things like marijuana legal, even though it’s still illegal federally.

The tenth amendment, according to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, prevents the “federal government from coercing state or local governments to use their resources to enforce a federal regulatory program, like immigration.” Essentially, the federal government cannot force state governments to collect immigration status information. Legally speaking, sanctuary cities are valid.

When considering this issue, one cannot ignore the political times. Seth Stodder, a former aid for Obama and Bush wrote in Politico that he changed his opinion of sanctuary cities under the Trump presidency, because of the radical immigration policies and the administration’s generally hostile attitude toward immigrants. While he used to think they would be used to shield felons, he now recognizes that they are actually used to shield normal people from being targeted inhumanly.

Under Obama, the immigration policies focused on criminals and not on families and law-abiding undocumented people. Under Trump, the immigration policies focus not on criminal activity but on any human being here so-called ‘illegally.’ Drastic policies call for drastic responses, as evidenced by Stodder’s change of heart.

“When the federal government and state and local governments were on the same page during the Obama administration, as was mostly the case, such “sanctuary” policies were counterproductive,” he wrote. “That can no longer be said today under the Trump administration.”

Statistically, safety is increased in sanctuary cities due to the encouragement of good relations between undocumented citizens and law enforcement. If citizens are worried about their citizenship or lack there of being questioned, they are less likely to report a crime to the authorities in fear that their citizenship will be questioned.

U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren stated “when people are afraid the police might ask about immigration status, they are less likely to report crimes and cooperate with investigations. As a result, criminals thrive, and the general public suffers.” By labeling Fort Collins a sanctuary city, citizens will feel safer when interacting with law enforcement.

CSU is a huge part of Fort Collins’ population. Currently more than 33,000 students attend CSU with almost 20,000 of those students being white. Labeling Fort Collins as a sanctuary city would encourage families to move here, and would encourage a more diversity on campus. Students who were once protected by DACA would be encouraged to come study here, benefiting the university.

Some also cite the potential withdrawal of federal funds as a reason not to become a sanctuary city, given Trump’s threats to places like California and Philadelphia. But under the new budget, funds for cities are already slashed and no longer guaranteed.


Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said, “Don’t get all full of yourself about the amount of money that the federal government gives us, it’s been dwindling for decades now.”

The financial impact, he said, should not be a reason not to protect citizens.

While it is true that if we don’t like the laws, we should push to change the laws, but changing the laws on immigration could take many years. Until the laws are changed to be fairer, sanctuary cities should be all over the U.S. in order for people to feel safe.

Sanctuary cities should be located in more centralized and affordable places in the U.S. Fort Collins is affordable, centralized and provides many opportunities to its residence, making it a great place for a sanctuary city.

Leta McWilliams can be reached at letters@collegian and online at @LetaMcWilliams