President Trump takes aim at 'sanctuary cities' like New York

President Trump is taking aim at so-called ‘sanctuary cities,’ signing an executive order aimed at stripping federal funds for cities like New York that don’t arrest or detain immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

Trump used his first visit to the Department of Homeland Security as president to sign an order to withhold federal funding for the cities, enhance immigration authorities’ ability to arrest, detain and remove undocumented immigrants, and give the State Department more power to deport undocumented immigrants.

The executive order was paired one that commanded the government to begin construction on a wall along the border with Mexico.

Trump only mentioned sanctuary cities in passing during a speech introducing newly confirmed DHS Secretary John Kelly, though he said the executive action “cracks down on sanctuary cities” and promised the pair of executive orders “will save thousands of lives, millions of jobs and billions and billions of dollars.”

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“We want safe communities and we demand safe communities for everyone,” Trump concluded after reading the names of those who have been killed by undocumented immigrants.

(AFP-OUT)

“We’ve been talking about this right from the beginning,” Trump said at DHS.

(Chip Somodevilla/POOL/EPA)

The executive action is short on specifics, and it’s unclear what if any force it will actually have on its own. But if it’s paired with legislation targeting sanctuary cities, as the White House said it hoped the law would be, the government could force cities like New York to comply — or face huge fiscal penalties, including millions for New York City.

“The Attorney General and the [DHS] Secretary, in their discretion and to the extent consistent with law, shall ensure that jurisdictions that willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373 (sanctuary jurisdictions) are not eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary,” the order reads. “The Secretary has the authority to designate, in his discretion and to the extent consistent with law, a jurisdiction as a sanctuary jurisdiction. The Attorney General shall take appropriate enforcement action against any entity that violates 8 U.S.C. 1373, or which has in effect a statute, policy, or practice that prevents or hinders the enforcement of Federal law.”

Still, federal courts have repeatedly ruled that the federal government can only cut funding to sanctuary cities if programs are directly related to immigration, including a Supreme Court ruling that funding can only be withheld if it is relevant “to the federal interest in the project.”

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That greatly narrows the scope of this move, though it could threaten hundreds of millions of dollars.

City officials are still working through how much money could be at risk, but believe that $ 156 million in urban areas security grants aimed at preventing terror attacks as well as $ 9 million grants from the Department of Justice could be eliminated. That’s a drop in the bucket of the city’s proposed $ 84.7 billion budget — roughly 0.2%.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s budget sets aside $ 1 billion for a rainy day fund, which could in part be used to cover funds lost from federal grants.

The move means that New York can likely continue its policy of not handing over undocumented immigrants arrested for minor offenses, though it’ll come at a cost.

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White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the order directs the DHS secretary to “look at funding streams that are going to these cities of federal monies and figure out how we can defund those streams.”

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the order directs the DHS secretary to “look at funding streams that are going to these cities of federal monies and figure out how we can defund those streams.”

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the order directs the DHS secretary to “look at funding streams that are going to these cities of federal monies and figure out how we can defund those streams.”

(KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)

Spicer didn’t directly answer a question about what the White House would do if cities decided to forego federal funds and refuse to participate, while saying the White House hopes the executive action will be followed by congressional action targeting sanctuary cities.

“It’s not a one-step process,” he said.

New York lawmakers pushed back against the White House, promising to disobey.

Here’s how Trump’s plan to defund sanctuary cities could play out

“Our laws and policies fall squarely within the law, and therefore we will do everything in our power to defend them. We will not allow the rights of New Yorkers’ regardless of immigration status, religious beliefs or country of origin to be trampled,” City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said at a Wednesday press conference.

“New York has always been a city of immigrants and we will not be bullied into dividing against one another,” Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn) said. “I am proud our City officials have made clear they will not be accomplices in enforcing policies that create fear in immigrant communities. We must remain steadfast and work at all levels of government to ensure our City and nation retains its diversity and remains a welcome destination for immigrants from all corners of the globe.”

“I am outraged that President Trump would try to punish New York and other cities that do not follow his extremist immigration agenda. This order not only targets immigrants, but will harm all people who rely on the federal resources he seeks to withhold. It is unconstitutional, it is cruel, it relies on the outrageous lies of ‘alternative facts’ about the supposed harms of undocumented immigrants, and I will fight it every step of the way,” Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-Manhattan) said in a statement. 

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Tags:
donald trump
immigration
sanctuary cities
mexico border wall
melissa mark viverito
nydia velazquez
john kelly
sean spicer
jerry nadler

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