According to a Politico survey published Monday, 37 cities in the United States have doubled down on their stances to not make any changes to their existing immigration policies even though President-elect Donald Trump has threatened to take away their federal funding after his inauguration in January.
Trump stated he will “cancel all federal funding to sanctuary cities” during his first 100 days of office, but legal experts are denying that this would even be a possibility for him. While this may be the case, there is also the possibility that Trump’s threats are meaningless.
“It depends on how serious they get, but whatever is going to happen, this is going to end up in court,” said Bill Ong Hing, a law professor at University of San Francisco and founder of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center.
To make matters even more complicated, there is no clear definition of the term “sanctuary city,” and officials of many cities refuse to use such a word to describe themselves, even if they do offer some sort of protection against immigration law enforcement.
Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer explained that while the city of Fresno does not fully comply with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, they are under legal obligation to cooperate with feds “when it is to assist them with criminal activity other than immigration status.”
Phil Torrey, a lecturer at Harvard Law School and the supervising attorney of the Harvard Immigration Projects, casts major doubt on Trump’s actual legal ability to prevent cities from getting funding. For example, San Francisco receives about $1 billion annually from the current administration.
“What the federal government can’t do at this point is basically pull funding wholesale from states and localities in order to get their local law enforcement agents to basically enforce federal immigration law,” Torrey said.
“If the federal government is really looking to do this, they’re going to have to look at each individual sheriff’s office,” Torrey continued. “I just think that politically that’s not going to work, and logistically it doesn’t sound tenable at all.”
Cities such as Los Angeles and Chicago already defy President Barack Obama’s immigration enforcement efforts, but other cities have joined in the movement since the election such as Santa Ana, Calif., and the Vermont cities of Burlington, Montpelier, and Winooski.
Once Trump takes office in less than six weeks, he may not even try to defund the so-called sanctuary cities. Certainly, this would be a relief for the millions he has promised to deport and their families.
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