The mayors of several big cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials in deporting illegal aliens who commit a crime have vowed to continue the practice of nullification even under the threat of a cut-off of funds.
The battle lines have been drawn, and the cities are daring the Trump administration and the GOP Congress to make good on their threats.
In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is vowing to continue the practice of non-compliance with federal immigration authorities.
On Monday, Chicago's elected officials, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, are expected to hold a news conference to formally discuss how the city will retain its sanctuary status. Aldermen are expected to call on Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner to pressure Trump to back off his vow to interfere with funding.You will note that the mayors refuse to differentiate between illegal aliens and legal immigrants. No one is advocating we deport people who are here legally. Hysteria is being ginned up by the mayors and others over this issue because they find it politically advantageous to refuse to distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants, thus scaring all immigrants.
“Across the country and in Chicago and Illinois ... young men and women [are] very distraught about this,” Chicago Alderman Danny Solis told POLITICO Illinois on Sunday.
Solis is among those planning to attend the news conference with Emanuel. "There’s some people, though I disagree with them, but I have some respect for — Paul Ryan, Reince Priebus," Solis said, referring to the House speaker and the RNC chairman who will serve as Trump's chief of staff. "I’m hoping that those guys have much more influence on Trump and what needs to be done not only on his first 100 days, but in his term."
Illinois Comptroller-elect Susana Mendoza, whose parents are Mexican immigrants, called on Rauner to take a stand on the issue.
“As a leader of this state, the governor, and everyone in a leadership position, should be saying it’s wrong,” Mendoza told POLITICO Illinois on Sunday. “I would expect that the governor would say, ‘that’s ridiculous.’ Besides moral bankruptcy, it’s bad fiscal policy for the city or any city.”
The move is largely motivated by elected officials who say they’ve heard from terrified residents, including so-called Dreamers (children whose parents entered the country illegally), who fear imminent deportation. On Sunday, Emanuel’s office released a statement directing those with questions or in need of legal resources to call 311.“I want to assure all of our families that Chicago is and will remain a sanctuary city,” Emanuel said in a statement. “Chicago has been a city of immigrants since it was founded. We have always welcomed people of all faiths and backgrounds, and while the administration will change, our values and our commitment to inclusion will not.”
Since Tuesday’s election, other cities that have affirmed their commitment to remaining sanctuaries include New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Philadelphia and San Francisco.
But cutting funding to these cities is a delicate matter. To do it legally, the funds have to be connected to the issue. One example is cutting highway funds to states who didn't adopt the 0.08 blood alcohol level for drunk drivers.
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 likely that any Trump effort to crack down on sanctuary cities would focus on those that refuse to comply with ICE requests, said Roy Beck, chief executive of NumbersUSA, which wants to see immigration levels reduced.It's also unclear what money Trump might pull from the cities. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that for Congress to impose conditions on the receipt of federal money by the states, the conditions must be reasonably related to the purpose of the money. For example, the feds threatened to withhold highway funds from any state that failed to adopt a 0.08 blood-alcohol limit: Both the limit and the highway funding were related to road safety."If the funding is for improving childhood education, it's hard to say that's reasonably related to local law enforcement cooperation with deportations," said Mary Fan, a University of Washington Law School professor.That said, the U.S. Justice Department's inspector general looked at some jurisdictions with sanctuary policies earlier this year and concluded some appear to violate a federal law that says state and local governments may not prohibit or restrict officials from sharing information about a person's immigration status with federal immigration officials. Having such policies could jeopardize millions of dollars in DOJ grant money the jurisdictions receive, the IG memo said.According to the Center for Immigration Studies, which also calls for lower immigration levels, about 300 jurisdictions around the country have sanctuary-like policies."The result is people who should be deported, who have come to the attention of police because of crime, are released back into the community," said the group's director of policy studies, Jessica Vaughan.
One potential target to cut funding that has been discussed in past Congresses is refusing to supply matching funds to sanctuary city police departments. This is probably legal, but the downside is that those matching funds are needed for public safety. The money not only goes for new equipment and maintenance, but also helps pay for additional police officers. Ordinary citizens would suffer the consequences of fewer cops on the beat if Congress cut the funds.
There is federal money that's sent to cities that's spent on immigration issues, but it's not enough to make those mayors feel the consequences of their defiance.
The fact is, this refusal to enforce the law is nothing less than nullification – the act of a state or local government refusing to enforce laws that Congress says it must enforce. It may be that cities don't have to enforce some federal immigration laws, but there is no doubt, as the Justice Department I.G. reported, that their cooperation in determining the immigration status of some illegals is required.
For 40 years, cities have thumbed their nose at federal immigration law with no consequences. That's about to change. And if these cities still refuse to obey the law after funding has been cut, President Trump should consider sending in either armies of federal immigration agents or the military to force compliance. Eisenhower did it. Kennedy did it. The precedent has been set. Trump should put these cities on notice that here on out, their defiance will have consequences.