Sanctuary Cities Face Possible Defunding


Kaitlin Lee, Writer

On Mar. 27, media members in the Press Briefing room were surprised by an appearance from Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In his speech, he threatened to strip funding from sanctuary cities if they did not turn in illegal immigrants. “I urge our nation’s states and cities to consider carefully the harm they are doing to their citizens by refusing to enforce our immigration laws and to rethink these policies,” Attorney General Sessions stated. “Such policies make their cities and states less safe, and put them at risk of losing valuable federal dollars.”

Sessions’ announcement follows President Donald Trump’s executive order in January that will allow him to punish any city that doesn’t willingly hand over illegal immigrants for deportation. This effort to penalize sanctuary cities is one of the latest efforts by the Trump Administration to constrain illegal immigration.

However, it is unclear to which territories penalization will apply. Several cities that disallow employees from revealing a person’s immigration information may have exceptions for situations when it is required by law. Furthermore, merely refusing to follow a detainer request doesn’t mean a sanctuary city is breaking a law, since such requests aren’t required in the statute cited by Sessions.
According to Sessions, the Department of Homeland Security recently released a report showing that in just one week, there were more than 200 instances of areas that did not follow detainer requests with respect to people charged or convicted of serious crime. “The charges and convictions against these aliens include drug trafficking, hit and run, rape, sex[ual] offenses against a child, and even murder,” Sessions said.

Across the country on Mar. 27, several critics of the crackdown of sanctuary cities explained they have no plans to reverse their policies. They went on to accuse President Trump of wrongfully depicting undocumented immigrants as criminals, though there is no correlation between illegal immigrants and crime. “Instead of making us safer, the Trump administration is spreading fear and promoting race-based scapegoating,” California State Senate President Kevin de León argued in a statement. “Their gun-to-the-head method to force resistant cities and counties to participate in Trump’s inhumane and counterproductive mass deportation is unconstitutional and will fail.”

Mayor Joseph Curtatone of Somerville, Massachusetts, said that his city turns in people with serious criminal records and people accused of dangerous crimes to the immigration officials. He stated that the president’s plans would hurt all of the residents by withholding public-safety funding that, in the past, financed programs, such as self-defense classes that help prevent rape.

“We’re not harboring any criminals,” Mayor Curtatone said. “It’s dangerous when you have those in authority and power who are not fully informed with the facts making such statements.”

Photos courtesy of GOVERNING.COM and VOX.COM