Get the Lowdown on the Showdown - Sanctuary Cities versus Donald Trump
Sanctuary cities are cities that have adopted policies of not arresting, questioning, or prosecuting illegal aliens if their only crime is violating Federal Immigration Law by being in the United States illegally. Their local law enforcement agencies are usually given strict instructions to not question a person about their immigration status; its a don't ask, don't tell policy that has no real legal standing in the Federal court system. President-elect Donald Trump campaigned and was elected to serve as our next President for many reasons; illegal immigration and a porous Southern border were both leading talking points. Between now and when he takes the oath of office next January, expect to see immigration remain in the headlines as both sides prepare for what will certainly be a messy battle, with countless political casualties, violent protests, and general unrest across the country.
Most of the sanctuary cities in America are in California, which comes as no surprise with that states high illegal alien population. San Francisco, Coachella, Berkley, Los Angeles, Salinas, San Jose, Oakland, and Santa Ana all have ordinances or policies which prohibit police from inquiring about citizenship status. Of these California cities, Los Angeles has the distinction of being the first actual sanctuary city. In 1979 the city established a policy which forbade officers from asking about a suspects immigration status; the policy is known officially as Special Order 40. The two provisions of the order state that officers shall not initiate police action with the objective of discovering the alien status of a person and that officers shall not arrest nor book persons for violation of title 8, section 1325 (illegal entry into the country) of the United States Immigration code.
Other U.S. cities that have sanctuary policies are Tucson, Chicago, New York City, Denver, Baltimore, Miami, Detroit, Salt Lake City, Seattle, both Houston and Dallas, Philadelphia, Santa Fe, Minneapolis, Portland, Maine and Portland, Oregon, New Haven, Connecticut, Newark and Jersey City, and both Somerville and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Also, the Common Council of the city of Madison, Wisconsin enacted a local ordinance in 1985 forbidding city employees, including city police, to co-operate with immigration officials. Surprisingly, this list also includes our nations capital, Washington DC. If we were to include all the municipalities and counties across the nation, the number would be over three hundred; three hundred places where American Law is being ignored.
Origins of Sanctuary Cities
The 1979 order in Los Angeles was initially written to be a police mandate to keep officers from harassing people who they suspected of being in the country illegally. Then police chief Daryl Gates and the Los Angeles City council collaborated on the mandate. The mandate was passed in hopes that it would encourage illegal aliens to report criminal activity without fear of retribution due to their illegal status. The ordinance has been challenged many times since it's original implementation, but so far has stood the test of time without being amended or changed. Many of these cities have gone much further and have embraced illegal aliens as part of their communities and local services.
Chicago, New York, and other Democrat-run City Leaders Speak
Former Obama White House Chief of Staff and current mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel has stated clearly that Chicago will remain a sanctuary city, in response to President-elect Trump's upcoming immigration policies. Emanuel is joined by the mayors of New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, and San Francisco is what appears to be an outright defiance of the Trump administration and Federal Law. Trump has said he will rescind all of Obama’s executive orders, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which allows some 725,000 Dreamers to remain in the country. In a recent appearance, Mayor Emanuel along with Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez, a very vocal supporter of amnesty for illegal aliens, vowed to resist any attempts by the Trump administration to deport illegal aliens. The hard-line stance on immigration, both legal and illegal, is one of the main reasons why Mr. Trump was elected and the expectations are that he will be very forceful when it comes to executing his plan.
Congressman Gutierrez went a step further than the mayor stating that if President Trump "dared" to rescind the DACA executive order, that he and his fellow Democrats would consider it an act of war. He went on in his pandering to a mostly Hispanic audience, trying to calm their fears about being deported and how his office would fight until the last breath to stop it from happening. When challenged in the interview, he backpedaled and expressed support for criminal illegal aliens to be deported, giving a mixed message to his constituents who favor amnesty for all illegal aliens, regardless of their history.
The Cost of Playing Politics
Like Emanuel, other Democratic mayors say they'll do all they can to protect illegal aliens residing in their jurisdiction from deportation, but how much becomes the question. President-elect Donald Trump's has already vowed to withhold Federal funds they don't cooperate, which for some of the larger cities would amount to millions of dollars. Right now everything is talk, at least in most areas. Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone of Somerville, Massachusetts took his resistance a step further and issued an executive order called the Trust Act, which shields immigrants with minor or no criminal records from possible deportation. Mayor Ed Lee of San Francisco, the city with some of the most stringent noncompliance policies in the country, is preparing for "business-as-usual" albeit with a much smaller budget. San Francisco receives over one billion dollars in federal funding which Trump will stop immediately upon assuming the office of President. City services will take a tremendous hit should the funding be pulled, putting Mayor Lee's job and long-term tenure in jeopardy.
Can Trump Succeed in Cutting Funding?
The debate over whether President Trump could actually stop federal funding is quite vigorous as the two sides play politics to position themselves for the upcoming battle. Since states and cities can't be required to enforce federal law, and there's no federal law requiring police to ask about a person's immigration status, it's very likely that any Trump effort to crack down on sanctuary cities would be almost exclusively connected to funding. Or, with control of both the Senate and Congress, he could push for new legislation which specifies his intentions. Right now Trump has not detailed the specifics of his plan, which may be on purpose to prevent the Democrats from devising a defense before he takes office.
It's also unclear what funds President Trump could pull from sanctuary cities. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that for Congress to impose conditions on the receipt of federal monies by the states, the conditions must be reasonably related to the purpose of the money. If the current funding is for highways, it would seem unreasonable that Trump can tie them to illegal immigration enforcement.
At this point, Trump has the momentum on all things related to illegal immigration. The Republicans hold both Houses of Congress and Trump will have the honor of selecting the next Supreme Court Justice. Aside from a Senate filibuster to delay proceedings, he could implement new laws that would strengthen those already in place. The left will certainly try to obstruct his efforts, but will have a tough time since most of his actions will be covered under already existing U.S. Immigration Law. There is no doubt that President Trump will be tough on the issue, and he isn't expected to lose the debate. The biggest looming question is how far will the left go to obstruct justice and what will be the consequences for doing so?