On Wednesday, President Trump made good on his promises to crack down on immigration and sanctuary cities. The president signed an executive order to withhold federal money from cities known as “sanctuary” cities, where local official essentially do not prosecute undocumented immigrants for possible violations of federal immigration laws. It’s unclear whether this type of jurisdiction is legal, but more than that, it can be extremely hard to enforce given sanctuary cities are nearly impossible to define. There are currently over 140 self-identified “sanctuary jurisdictions” across the U.S, including at least 37 cities like New York, San Francisco, Miami, and Los Angeles.
Although the term has been popularized over the last few years, NPR reports that local law enforcement often decides how to proceed with immigrant detentions on a case by case basis. Local officials may also tell their officers not to collect information regarding whether someone is an immigrant or not, preventing them from obtaining that information to report to federal authorities to begin with.
The order says that if certain cities or states “willfully refuse to comply” with federal immigration laws, they are effectively “not eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the attorney general or the secretary.” If money is pulled from a city or state entirely, a fiscal disaster could follow. So what money is Trump threatening to withdraw exactly? It could mean the millions of dollars provided to local police and courts related to law enforcement and immigration, like, for example, the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant.
Some mayors are speaking out against the order. “We’re going to stay a sanctuary city,” Rahm Emanuel told The Chicago Tribune. “Wherever you came from, you’re welcome here.”