UW Royalty Research Fund – Sanctuary Laws Are Not Optional: Examining Immigration Information Flows to Monitor Law Enforcement Compliance with Sanctuary Laws in Washington

In 2019, Washington state approved what are known as Sanctuary laws, which offer undocumented immigrants a degree of protection from non-criminal prosecution by prohibiting state and local authorities from collaborating with federal immigration authorities in immigration enforcement and non-criminal investigations. Nonetheless, some local and state law enforcement agencies in Washington may be treating Sanctuary laws as optional, purposefully or inadvertently failing to comply with them. Immigrants’ rights are human rights. Current abuses to immigrant populations including family separations, detention of minors, criminalization of immigration, and indiscriminate detention and deportation of undocumented migrants, require urgent address as grave violations of human rights. In 2018-19, the UW Center for Human Rights (UWCHR) used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain numerous data-sets related to immigration enforcement in Washington. Preliminary qualitative analysis uncovered evidence of noncompliance with Sanctuary laws, and of collaboration and information-sharing with federal law enforcement agencies. In this project, we consolidate a research collaboration between UWCHR and the Information School to analyze FOIA obtained data, to investigate information sharing practices among local and state law enforcement, assess the extent of their collaboration with federal immigration enforcement agencies, and to determine their compliance with state Sanctuary laws. This research will render visible information sharing and coordination practices that violate human rights in their failure to comply with state Sanctuary laws. This funding will result in the formulation of a research and advocacy agenda that will lead to future funding opportunities for studying immigration information flows in Washington state.

Grant Info


Marika Cifor


Ricardo Gomez

Start Date

Jan 1, 2020