Freedom Cities FAQ

Freedom Cities FAQ

What is the difference between Freedom Cities vs. Sanctuary Cities vs. Welcoming Cities?
The terms “Welcoming Cities” and “Sanctuary Cities” are often used interchangeably, and there is no exact legal meaning or definition for either. Generally, they are both understood to be cities that do not ask people about immigration status, particularly in law enforcement activities or in providing services, and decline to engage efforts in to enforce immigration law, which is the federal government’s responsibility.  For example, they provide city services without respect to immigration status or English-language ability, they protect the confidential records of undocumented immigrants, and/or they refusing to detain immigrants on behalf of ICE unless there is a warrant signed by a judge.

The ACLU supports advocacy for what we’re calling Freedom Cities. These are cities that are committed not only to not cooperating with the President’s mass deportation agenda, but also actively take steps to protect people  who may also be unjustly targeted by this administration’s policies on LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, religious liberties, or free speech. In Washington State, Seattle’s most recent executive order and resolution seem the closest to taking that approach.

What is a 287g agreement? Are there any in Washington?
The Section 287(g) program allows certain state and local law enforcement agencies to engage in federal immigration enforcement activities. The ACLU has strongly opposed the 287(g) program, believing it has led to illegal racial profiling and civil rights abuses while diverting scarce resources from traditional local law enforcement functions and distorting immigration enforcement priorities.  No jurisdictions have signed 287(g) agreements in Washington State at the present time.

What if there is no official “welcoming” or “sanctuary” ordinance, but police say they have a practice of not making inquiries about immigration status?
Consider whether you’ll want to ask the city or county council to formally adopt an ordinance, and please do let us know! One consideration can be that if a city is already following the practices we support, whether the process of pushing for a formal ordinance turn the practices into public controversy with negative effects for local immigrants.

Where can I find Know Your Rights publications?
You can find Know Your Rights publications for downloading, including your rights with the police and protest rights, at
We are also happy to send you our wallet cards:
  • Know Your Rights When Stopped by the Police in Spanish or English
  • Know Your Rights with the FBI in Arabic
  • Know Your Protest and Demonstration Rights.
  • We will have printed versions of the KYR with Police, FBI & Immigration Agents card referenced in the People Power training soon. It will be available initially in English, Spanish, and Somali.
Where can I learn more about People Power, or find the Resistance Training Action Guide and 9 Model Law Enforcement Policies?
You can find more information about People Power at
The Resistance Training Guide and Model Policies are available at:

Where can I access the March 11 People Power webstream?
People Power launched in March 2017 with a nationwide livestream from Miami, Florida. You can watch the video here: