Sanctuary Silicon Valley

Hey Silicon Valley cities of the Peninsula, let's join the ~400 cities and counties in the U.S. that have sanctuary city policies and laws. Such policies and laws, which vary from city to city, limit city government employees (including police and school staff) from helping federal immigration enforcement efforts.

Sanctuary cities in California:



Los Angeles (the first since 1979)



San Francisco

San Jose (rejecting the label, keeping the practice)

Santa Ana


What's a sanctuary city, again?

It is cities like those listed above who have passed a city ordinance so that city employees don't enforce federal immigration laws either at all or in specific situations. The specific ordinances vary. For example, one might tell police staff only to check citizenship status in case of felony conviction and public school staff not to check citizenship status of students. To learn more about sanctuary city policies, scroll down and read the Sanctuary Updates section below on this page.

Why are you asking for feedback?

We're looking for feedback from everyone living or working in Silicon Valley (i.e. between San Francisco and San Jose, both of which are already sanctuary cities). We are sharing this feedback anonymously with city council members and community organizers to encourage and empower them to consider passing sanctuary city ordinances.

Why are you asking for my name, email & zip code?

Feedback is more credible when it comes from real people vs. "anonymous." If you want to provide feedback but feel strongly that you don't want to share your identity with us, then just write in "anonymous" in those two questions on the feedback form. We will not share your name & email address with any 3rd party

Who made this website?

My name is Jen Mazzon, and I live in Menlo Park. My neighbors got a group together to brainstorm how we can embrace inclusion in our community, and we think that making Menlo Park a sanctuary city will be a step in the right direction. But why stop there? Let's make all of Silicon Valley a place where immigrants won't be afraid to get help from the police, take their kids to school, and fully participate in our communities.

Sanctuary City Talking Points

  1. Communities are safer and healthier as a sanctuary cities.
    • Crime is lower and economies are stronger in sanctuary counties vs. non-sanctuary counties (e.g. Los Angeles and San Francisco)
    • Undocumented immigrants will only report crimes if they do not feel at risk of deportation. According to the President Obama’s Taskforce on 21st Century Policing, “immigrants often fear approaching police officers when they are victims of and witnesses to crimes and when local police are entangled with federal immigration enforcement.“ A study conducted by the University of Illinois similarly found that 44 percent of Latinos are less likely to contact police officers if they have been the victim of a crime because they fear that police officers will use this interaction as an opportunity to inquire about their immigration status or that of people they know.
  2. Existing city policies are nonbinding and therefore do not build community trust.
    • Department policies are “guidelines” that can be revised at any time.
    • Trust in city employees (e.g. police, school authorities) is low in marginalized communities. A relationship of trust between a city’s immigrant residents and our local agencies, including police, and schools, is essential to carrying out basic local functions. That trust is threatened when local agencies are involved in immigration enforcement.
    • Broad civic engagement is stunted because undocumented immigrants are a marginalized community that is scared to participate and risk separation from their families.
  3. Local and state sanctuary city ordinances are constitutional.
    • Immigration enforcement is under the purview of the federal government; state and local authorities are not legally required to assist federal immigration enforcement efforts.
  4. City employees still follow a simple “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule.
    • A sanctuary city ordinance will ensure that city employees continue to take a neutral stance regarding community members’ immigration status: they will be required not to investigate people’s immigration status, nor to report people’s immigration status to federal authorities.
  5. There is a clear exception for people who are arrested or convicted of felony charges.
    • If a person gets arrested for or convicted of a felony, police can both investigate and report immigration status to federal authorities.
    • Please read the full text of the model sanctuary city ordinance (has been in place in San Francisco for decades) below.
  6. Every child needs our full community support.
    • The American Academy of Pediatrics have stated: “It is our strongly held belief that all children should be afforded the right to attend school, visit a doctor’s office, or approach a police officer for help without fearing for their safety. Parents should be able to attend school events and parent-teacher conferences, seek medical care, and request police assistance for themselves and their children without concern that their families will be torn apart as a result. Subjecting California families to programs and policies that threaten these central functions of parenting could pose innumerable, grave consequences to the social, psychological, and physical well-being of children.”
  7. The recent Executive Order gives unilateral power to ICE agents
    • As we’ve seen in the recent deportation raids, ICE agents are starting to cast a wider net to detain immigrants.
  8. California Senate Bill #54, the California Values Act that will make all of California a sanctuary state, is still far from becoming law.
    • It passed in the senate but now has to go through assembly committee changes and an assembly vote, which could take a long time (even >1 year, per a senior field representative of Assemblyman Marc Berman).
  9. Penalizing sanctuary states / cities is likely unconstitutional.
    • Per the 10th amendment, the federal government cannot coerce states to assist with immigration enforcement.
    • If the feds withhold funds from sanctuary states/cities, the feds will get sued – actually they're already getting sued about this.

For more FAQs, scroll to the bottom of this page.

Example Sanctuary City Ordinance

Please feel free to open the doc below in a new window and add your comments to this sample sanctuary city ordinance. Also you can make a copy of it, replace "Menlo Park" with your city name, and send it to your city council with a request that they consider it at a council meeting.

Menlo Park Sanctuary Ordinance Draft

Sanctuary Updates

April 8, 2017

The California Senate passed Senate Bill #54, the “California Values Act” that will prevent the use of state and local resources for federal immigration enforcement actions. The voting went down on party lines with all democrats voting for SB 54 and republicans voting against. While this was an important first step in making SB 54 a state law, there are 3 more hurdles: the bill now has to go through California Assembly committees (which may entail changes/amendments to the bill), subsequently it must pass a majority State Assembly vote, and then it must be signed into law by Governor Brown. If all that goes down this year, it would go into effect on January 1, 2018.

I spoke yesterday with Zachery Ross, a Senior Field Representative on Marc Berman’s staff to understand Assemblyman Berman’s stance on SB 54. (Marc represents a good chunk of San Mateo and Santa Clara County cities. If you don’t know who your assemblyman is, you can find out using this map.) Zach said that, while Marc is conceptually supportive, he will reserve his decision until he sees the final version of the bill after it has gone through the Assembly committee process. Zach said that process could take anywhere from days to months. He mentioned that he was once quite sure that a particular bill would pass in just a few weeks, and it took 1.5 years. Because of this, Zach said that he has quit trying to predict how long it will take for any individual bill to pass.

At this point the #1 thing that YOU can do to help ensure that California becomes a sanctuary state is to call / write / meet with your state assemblyman and assert your support for SB 54. The ACLU suggests this sample script for your message:

"Hello, my name is ___________ and I would like to ask Assemblymember ___Berman or other___ to support the California Values Act, SB 54. The California Values Act just passed with a majority vote in the Senate and it is heading into the Assembly Committee process. The bill will ensure that most state and local resources are not used to further mass deportations. The California Values Act will uphold our core principles of equal treatment, community, and compassion. Thank you."


The lawsuit that I told you about in my last update – Santa Clara County vs. the executive order withholding federal funds from sanctuary cities – has a court hearing on April 4th in which it was joined with a lawsuit brought by San Francisco against the same executive order. The next court hearing for this lawsuit is on April 14th. I’m happy to say that at 34 cities, including my hometown of Menlo Park, filed Amicus curiae briefs in support of this Santa Clara County in this lawsuit. I’ll keep track of this lawsuit and include news in my next update.

March 26, 2017

The action item of the day is to contact your state senator and urge them to support the “California Values Act” or Senate Bill #54. If passed, this law will prevent the use of state and local resources for federal immigration enforcement actions that will separate families and hurt the state’s economy. This law will essentially make all of California a sanctuary state! Please call or email your state senator (Find your State Senator here) with the request to "Vote yes on the original, clean version of SB 54, with NO amendments."

If you prefer to mail letters or Tweet, here’s a great site with info on how to do so:

Watch Senator de Leon’s presentation of SB 54 at

For a detailed analysis of SB 54, download the PDF from 3/17/17 available here:

* * *

Another action that you can take is to get training and participate in Faith in Action’s Rapid Response Network volunteer program. You don’t have to be religious to participate. I attended a training in East Palo Alto last week that was excellent, and I’ve signed up to be a volunteer. The program aims to expand the community's capacity to monitor and document ICE raids in real time. The rapid response network will expose the intimidating and unconstitutional tactics ICE uses to detain immigrants. Our network will also support the process of gathering evidence used to free someone from ICE custody. You can learn about this program a

The next Rapid Response Legal Training is Tuesday, March 28, 5:00pm - 7:00pm: USF, Bermann Room at Fromm’s Hall, Parker St at Golden Gate Ave, San Francisco. No RSVP necessary.

March 8, 2017

Urgent request: by 5pm tomorrow (Thursday), please email your City Council and urge them to support Santa Clara County by joining the Amicus brief to protect Federal funding of sanctuary cities.

All supporting Amicus Curiae briefs are due to the court by March 22nd, so we need City Council action before then. In Menlo Park for example, next Tuesday's city council meeting is the only window of opportunity, and the city agenda is finalized on Friday which is why you need to email the city council by 5pm tomorrow (Thursday) at the latest.

Here is an article with some more info about the Santa Clara County lawsuit:

Here is an email template to send to your city council members – please send ASAP!

Subject: Support Santa Clara County Litigation to Protect Federal Funding

Hello City Council,

I am writing to request that you support Santa Clara County to protect federal funding for the county.

Please agendize for the next City Council meeting a consideration to join the Amicus Curiae brief in support of Santa Clara County, in the litigation to protect the Federal funding of so-called "sanctuary cities". All Amicus Curiae briefs are due to the court by March 22nd, so we need City Council action before then.

The withholding of Federal dollars from Santa Clara County will immeasurably affect our entire region. Please join the Amicus Curiae brief in support of local control.


<your name here>


The bad news is that ICE’s aggressive raids and deportations are ongoing. The good news is that a few more cities and organizations in California are stepping up to lawfully resist these immigration enforcement efforts that are ripping apart families in our communities:

I very much hope that one of our Silicon Valley cities will follow suit soon.

February 21, 2017

Lots of goings on – too many to count, really! Immigrants are more concerned than ever about being targeted, detained and deported. Here are 3 short updates:

  1. I have compiled these immigrant resources, including immigrant rights training documents in English and Spanish (thank you Comité Latino), and a super helpful family planner for immigrants (thank you Please share these resources with immigrants you know – particularly undocumented immigrants – and email me (update [at] any additional resources that you find helpful so that I can add them to the compilation.
  2. If you want to receive immigrant rights training, you can join a training session this Sunday, Feb 26th at 3:30-5pm at Cafe Zoe, 1929 Menalto Avenue in Menlo Park. If you want to attend that training, please email me so that I can tell the organizer how many people to expect. If you can’t make that date, Comité Latino does trainings on the 4th Tuesday of every month (next one is March 28th) at 6:30-8:30pm at the Municipal Center, 2415 University Avenue in East Palo Alto. If you are an individual and are interested in providing a safe haven in case of immigration-related emergency, contact the Comité Latino at (650) 321-4001 and leave a message.
  3. With lots of help, I have developed this 11x17 informational flyer with 10 talking points on why with Menlo Park should adopt a sanctuary city ordinance, and 5 action items that people in Menlo Park. You can easily adapt this flyer to your city by making a copy of the document in Google Docs and then substituting your city name and action item links for the ones I have in there for Menlo Park. I’m also working with a designer to create a yard sign, and I’ll share the design for that in my next update that you can also adapt to work for your city.

January 31, 2017

Wow, crazy times. Seriously. Here’s a must-read article published in today’s LA Times: San Francisco sues Trump over executive order targeting sanctuary cities

I have some solid progress to report in this update, as well as more asks of you all. Here’s the progress:

  1. Seems like more Silicon Valley cities and organizations are getting serious about reassuring their immigrant communities. Sequoia Union High School District passed this resolution in support of undocumented students. Menlo Park passed a resolution to affirm diversity and inclusion, and agreed to vote on a sanctuary city ordinance within 90 days – for details see today’s Almanac article. I’ve heard rumblings of folks who want to advocate for immigrant communities in Redwood City and San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. Feels like the momentum is picking up a bit!
  2. There’s a fan-freaking-tastic California State Bill that would make all our local advocacy efforts pretty much moot because it would essentially cover our Golden State with a big ol’ sanctuary city law: “This bill would, among other things, prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies and school police and security departments from using resources to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect, report, or arrest persons for immigration enforcement purposes…” Yay for Senator De León who introduced this bill! It’s still in committee and quite far from getting voted on, so we need to keep trucking on our local initiatives in the meantime.

Good stuff, right? OK now here are my asks of you all:

January 19, 2017

I have a few updates to report, and also need to put out a call for all you help. First, the updates:

  1. Yes, tomorrow is really happening. We don’t know what specifically the new president is planning to do around immigration enforcement. There's speculation about a possible revocation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which would impact 1000s students in the Bay Area – 1000 students at De Anza college alone.
  2. My family went to rally in San Jose in support of immigrants and refugees. The event was sponsored by the Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network (SIREN). We listened to speakers who reminded us that, unless you are a native american, you are an immigrant. We chanted in solidarity. It was a wonderful experience.
  3. I have some progress to report in Menlo Park: this Tuesday, January 24th, the Menlo Park City Council has the following on the city council agenda item: “Review and consider adopting a resolution affirming Menlo Park’s commitment to a diverse, supportive, inclusive and protective community; review and consider introducing an ordinance adding Chapter 2.58, National Registry Participation Prohibited, to the Menlo Park Municipal Code; and review and consider alternatives.” I’ve sent this proposed city ordinance to a few Menlo Park city council members, and I’m hoping that they consider it as an alternative!

Asks for you:

  • If you don’t live in Menlo Park and are aware of progress in your Bay Area city, please email me and tell me about it so that I can add your info to the next update.
  • If you live in Menlo Park, please attend the city council meeting this Tuesday, January 24th and make a Public Comment in support of inclusion and protection of vulnerable populations in our community.

December 23, 2016

On the heels of winter solstice and with Christmas, Hanukkah, etc. right around the corner, this is my final update for 2016 on the sanctuary ordinance effort. There’s good news and bad news.

Interest in sanctuary policies is gaining interest among some Bay Area cities:

There are also significant headwinds:

  • Bay Area cities plan to rely on federal funds for infrastructure projects in the years ahead, and their city councils are nervous about the possibility of losing federal funds, even temporarily. While withholding federal funds over sanctuary policies would ultimately wind up in the Supreme Court as a violation of the 10th amendment, justice moves slowly and local infrastructure projects could be cash started in the meantime.
  • While resolutions are nice and make us feel good, they lack teeth and can be violated without impunity. City ordinances, on the other hand, are laws that require enforcement and entail penalties if violated. Also, a city ordinance does not carry at the county level, with the exception of San Francisco’s ordinance because SF is both a city and its own county. For example, if an undocumented person is detained in a county jail, the county jails in both San Mateo and Santa Clara counties immediately report immigration status directly to ICE, even before conviction.
  • We’ve had only 4 additional community feedback form submissions in the last week. Please share the form ( with your friends and family so that I can understand their perspectives and keep them apprised of any developments within their city that would benefit from their participation.

Finally, here’s an excerpt from a long feedback form submission from someone who opposes sanctuary policies:

“ is not the responsibility of local governments to take any action whatsoever to protect illegal immigrants from federal action. My belief is that local governments should remain neutral on this point.”

The potential bridge to common ground here is this idea of local governments remaining neutral – that notion is very consistent with sanctuary policies! Neutrality means that local governments take no action either to help or to hinder federal immigration authorities. The whole point of sanctuary policies is to ensure that city employees take no action to help, which is much more common than city employees hindering, immigration raids and deportations.

December 2, 2016

We're up to 159 feedback form responses! A blurb in the Palo Alto Daily news last week may have helped boost responses. We're still trying to get a meeting with Menlo Park City Council Members so that we can understand more clearly what are their criteria for passing city ordinances and get on the agenda of an upcoming City Council meeting. The feedback form is the strongest evidence we have right now that most people support sanctuary policies and want to see them supported by their cities. Here are the summary results as of this morning:

In addition to people's questions and considerations that I shared in my last update (see below), here are some additional points that I've seen in the new feedback submissions – this time I'm showing direct quotes and not paraphrasing:

  • "Sanctuary cities draw criminals since they don't have to fear consequences. Let police do their job."
So actually the claim that sanctuary cities draw criminals is completely unsubstantiated. Police departments of sanctuary cities have stated publicly that sanctuary policies allowing police to do their jobs without having to act like federal immigration officials (except in the case of convicted felons) is good for community policing. Here are a few articles where major city police chiefs have touted the positive relationship between local law enforcement and sanctuary policies: Los Angeles, New Haven, Seattle.
  • "It seems like if we make the legal process sensible and easier for everyone, we could reduce illegal immigration much more and have everyone be more trustful of each other. I find there is lack of a holistic debate. So I find it difficult to support one piecemeal idea that kinda sorta alleviates one problem. I find it difficult to support one idea when other things are also broken. In the current political crisis, I am supportive of a sanctuary ordinance - but i worry that these are the kind of things that may make the next generation of legal-whoevers get angrier (kind of where we are today!)."
At the local level, piecemeal solutions that give the most vulnerable in our community a tangible sense of greater solidarity and support is a good thing. While national debates about more holistic immigration policies are or are not happening, we can make some positive progress at the local level to institute policies that reflect our community values. Let's not artificially gate local progress on national reform.
  • "Federal law is quite clear on this. Leave illegal immigration to the Feds."
Indeed, the federal government is responsible for immigration enforcement, while local city employees are not and should not be expected to check on or enforce immigration laws. That's exactly the idea behind sanctuary policies – they ensure that city employees can focus on doing their jobs, serving their communities and fostering trust and communication with city residents. 

November 19, 2016

So far, 91 people have submitted the form. 59 of these folks live in Menlo Park, which is due I think to my posting on Next Door for my neighborhood. If you live outside Menlo Park and want to help get out the word in your community, posting a link to the website on your neighborhood discussion board/group would make a difference.

Here is what the distribution of support looks like:

The key concerns that folks site who don't support are as follows (I'm paraphrasing here):

• "Illegal immigrants break the law and we should uphold our country's laws." The root cause concern here is around not wanting to perpetuate lawlessness. Living in a country where nobody pays attention to laws would be bad – we all totally get that.

How we're thinking about this issue: 
Federal (and state) laws are not immutable – they can change over time in response to challenges from local communities. In this case, a community can come together and challenge a law in a lawful way. The marijuana proposition that just passed in California is a good example of that. The federal government says it's a crime to possess marijuana, and the people of California say that it's no longer the case. So local laws can impact federal ones, sometimes leading to change in those federal laws, themselves.

• "We don't want our community to become a safe haven for criminals." The issue at hand here is wanting to have a safe community where criminals are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Everyone would agree with that!

How we're thinking about this issue:
The sanctuary ordinance does not impede police officers from arresting criminals, or the justice system from prosecuting them. All that good justice still happens, unimpaired. The difference here is that officers don't report anybody to the federal immigration authorities when they arrest them. When someone gets convicted of a felony, they get reported. This provides a very clear line in the sand for police offers so that they don't wind up checking folks' immigration status on routine traffic stops, etc. The police chief of LAPD thinks this delineation is good for community law enforcement, per this article. 

• "If we become a sanctuary city, will we lose federal funding?" The next presidential administration has put this possibility (threat) out there. It would certainly suck to lose any federal funding that we have.

How we're thinking about this issue:
Sanctuary cities from Chicago to New Mexico to LA have come out publicly saying that they will not change their sanctuary city status in the face of the potential loss of federal funding. If that were to happen, this would become a national issue that all sanctuary cities would face together. I think that's pretty good company to keep, and if we feel that passing a sanctuary city ordinance is good for our community and reflects our community values, we should not hesitate to do so in the face of this potential federal backlash.

The questions that people who do support becoming a sanctuary city have are as follows:

• "What does a sanctuary city ordinance include / not include?" Check out this example (also posted above) and please leave your detailed comments and questions.

• "What's the process to get a sanctuary city ordinance passed in my city?" Every city is a little different, but in Menlo Park either the mayor or two council members must make the request to have the city council consider the ordinance at a council meeting. I'll be meeting with Menlo Park city council member Ray Mueller after Thanksgiving to discuss further.

• "What can I do to help?" First and foremost, please send the website link to your friends and family here in Silicon Valley so that we can gather more feedback. I suspect that having a critical mass of feedback (even when anonymized and aggregated) will be an important input to city council members' consideration of the sanctuary ordinance proposals. Also, if you want to step up to contact you city council members and get the sanctuary ordinance proposal on their city council agendas, that would be awesome too!