In a nation divided over so many issues, the presence of so-called sanctuaries is one of the most contentious. The issue revolves around undocumented immigrants and the role that federal, county, state, and municipal governments play in it. There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.
The term sanctuary has been used to describe locations — states, cities, counties, and other jurisdictions — that limit cooperation between local law enforcement and federal agencies that enforce immigration laws. Estimates for the number of sanctuary cities and counties vary from 165 to more than 600.
24/7 Wall St. has compiled a list of the biggest counties by population that have placed some limitation on the authority of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to arrest and deport illegal immigrants within their borders. These places are called sanctuary cities or counties, often by the anti-immigrant politicians and activists, but sometimes by supporters. Most of these sanctuary designations are counties and the majority are located in 13 states.