President-elect Donald Trump pledged to block federal funding to sanctuary cities as part of his 100-day action plan, but the Democratic mayors of Chicago, New York City, and other cities say they won’t change their policies protecting criminal aliens. The new Administration may focus first on sanctuary cities that refuse to comply with ICE detainer requests while Congress considers legislation to further define sanctuary city prohibitions and the president’s sanctions authority.
During the campaign President-elect Trump promised to cut federal funding for cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities because such policies are responsible for "so many needless deaths." After the election, a number of Democratic mayors wasted no time in pushing back.
Some sanctuary cities like San Francisco facilitate the ability of illegal aliens to live in the U.S. by issuing ID cards making them eligible for government services. Others bar employees, including police, from inquiring about a person's immigration status. Within the past few years, many have begun to deny ICE detainer (hold) requests for criminal aliens, or to prohibit police from calling ICE when a criminal alien’s release is pending.
Congress on several occasions considered but failed to pass anti-sanctuary legislation, most recently Sen. Patrick Toomey’s (R-Penn) Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act . That bill would have defined a "sanctuary city" as any state-level jurisdiction that fails to communicate with federal immigration officers or comply with a detainer request. The bill sought to block community and economic development grants to jurisdictions that fit the definition.
Shortly after the bill’s defeat the Department of Justice's Inspector General determined that some cities violate federal anti-sanctuary law that prohibits state and local governments from restricting communications with federal immigration officials concerning immigration status. The IG said that could jeopardize millions of dollars in DOJ grant money. Attorney General Loretta Lynch threatened New Orleans but did not sanction that city or others.
Senator David Vitter (R-La.), long a proponent of anti-sanctuary legislation, supports President-elect Trumps crackdown pledge but wants to see Congress pass a bill before the end of the year. In a statement he said, “During my decade-long fight to end sanctuary city policies, Senate Democrats and over 300 cities across the nation have foregone the safety of American families and communities in order to coddle and protect the 170,000 convicted criminal aliens who remain at-large in the US. Until we end all dangerous and illegal sanctuary city policies – which I am confident will happen sooner than later – the obvious first step is to withhold federal funding from those cities refusing to comply with federal immigration laws.”
Since it will be difficult for Congress to pass anti-sanctuary legislation during the lame duck session, the matter is expected to get priority consideration next year.
Read more at ABC News.
Updated: Wed, Nov 30th 2016 @ 5:30pm EST