Numerous Cities Defy Trump's Immigration Plans

by Natasha Guzmán

Facing an uncertain future, legislators in New York, Los Angeles, Boston and multiple other "sanctuary cities" have declared plans to challenge Trump's immigration policies, despite the new President-elect's threats to strip them of federal funding.

The term "sanctuary city" refers to an American city with local policies that put limits on the level of cooperation officials and residents have to show the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. Such policies include refusing to hold undocumented immigrants in jails for the express purpose of deportation, prohibiting police officers from asking questions about a person's immigration status, and reporting to ICE when an undocumented person is released from a law enforcement agency after committing a crime.

Trump railed after these cities during his campaign, often citing the death of Kate Steinle, who was allegedly shot in 2015 by an undocumented man who'd previously been deported five times. "Block funding for sanctuary cities," he said as he listed his campaign promises during a rally in August. "We block the funding. No more funding. We will end the sanctuary cities that have resulted in so many needless deaths. Cities that refuse to cooperate with federal authorities will not receive taxpayer dollars and we will work with Congress to pass legislation to protect those jurisdictions that do assist federal authorities."

Proponents of sanctuary cities point to evidence showing the extremely low rates of violent crime among immigrants, particularly first-generation immigrants, to make their case; Trump and his surrogates remain unconvinced and seemingly determined to carry out their promise.

Still, some legislators have shown no signs of buckling under the threat of losing millions of dollars. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced his stance on no unclear terms after Election Day. "To all those who are, after Tuesday's election, very nervous and filled with anxiety as we've spoken to, you are safe in Chicago, you are secure in Chicago and you are supported in Chicago," he said. "Chicago will always be a sanctuary city."

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, whose city could lose up to $500 million if the Trump administration keeps its promise, declared any move to minimize Los Angeles' funding as not only "irresponsible but immoral." The federally-provided funds currently help to sustain community health centers and antiterrorism programs.

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza has also taken a stand. “Folks may feel threatened by what they hear,” he said to a crowd gathered inside a high school. “We will protect our communities and our families so they can continue to live their lives free of fear and safe in our communities.”

New York City's Bill De Blasio is among those who've pledged to protect his undocumented constituents as well.

Some lawyers argue that Trump can't legally demand that states take on duties meant to be carried out by ICE. In the meantime, it's reassuring to see government officials taking a strong stance against stringent anti-immigrant proposals.