Imagine coming home to absolute chaos. After a long day, your roommates or family members are rambunctious and too much for you to handle. You head to your room, close the door, and immediately feel at peace. This is your sanctuary. Now imagine that the place that brought you contentment vanishes. Take it one step further and envision your home disappears. This is a reality immigrants in the United States face every day. Some have found solace in what are known as sanctuary cities. These jurisdictions limit compliance with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and have policies in place to protect immigrants. On January 25th, 2017 President Trump took steps to eliminate sanctuary cities. His executive order stated his plan to “strip federal grant money from sanctuary states and cities that harbor illegal immigrants” (Kopan). This means that cities would receive less funding. The idea behind this is that the financial pressure some jurisdictions may face could push them away from being a sanctuary and toward cooperating more with ICE. Looking at past legal cases, financial forecasts, and expert opinions, the outcome of this order may not meet this prediction. President Trump’s executive order on sanctuary cities will prove ineffective.
The order to cut federal grants lacks legal support. While the Office of Management and Budget has yet to state which programs will be shut off, the precedence surrounding federal funding decreases is that the government can only strip money directly related to the policy involved. In this case, it means that only grants provided by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are at risk. South Dakota vs. Dole held the verdict of policy based cuts, and that funding decisions are meant to promote general welfare. While the benefit of sanctuary cities may be up to debate, it is clear that limiting a jurisdiction’s budget that is used for overall maintenance and assistance to residents of the area does not foster well-being. In Printz vs. the US, it was found that the “federal government may not compel states to enact or administer a federal regulatory program.” It is illegal for the government to put states in a position where complying with a federal policy is the only way to avoid detriment. This judgement was put to the test in 2012, when conservatives went against Obama’s healthcare law. The outcome followed precedence and decided that withholding health funds from states not cooperating was unconstitutional (Kopan). Trump is attempting to put sanctuary state money at risk to force them to conform to all ICE requests. Evidently, this executive order will not hold up in court.
While the Office of Management and Budget, the entity responsible for labeling sanctuary cities and deciding which funds to cut, has not released a statement, financial analysts have predicted these jurisdictions will not suffer. New York and Philadelphia are selling bonds in large amounts with little concern for the order. Analyzing firms say cities will be able to repay municipal bonds. Standard & Poor’s stated that the order will affect only resources provided by the DHS, which is less than one percent of budgets examined. Looking at it more broadly, S&P also found that federal agency grants only make up an average of about ten percent of the average municipal budget. New York has affirmed that they do not feel threatened by the order and feel most funds will not be cut (Kamp). Without the fear of harm to their jurisdictions, sanctuary cities will not feel inclined to turn their back on immigrants and obey DHS demands.
Some may cite Miami-Dade County’s submission to DHS immigrant detainer request as a victory, but the opposition to Trump’s order is strong. Sanctuary cities have gone as far as to instruct their police not to question immigration status, offer municipal identification cards, and set aside money to provide legal services to undocumented immigrants (Carmen). Mayor Edwin Lee asserted “San Francisco is a sanctuary city and will not waiver in its commitment to protect the rights of all its residents” (Kopan). San Francisco has already filed a lawsuit against this order. New York and Los Angeles have also stated their intention legal battle if excess funds are cut. With populous and strong cities ready to head to court, Trump’s order is not evoking compliance (Kamp).
Legal complications, financial analysis, and the strength of sanctuary cities all point the ineffectiveness of this executive order. Three court cases have lead to precedence that San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles could all use their advantage. Reputable firms and S&P have predicted a positive outlook for the budgets of sanctuary cities while they continue to issue bonds. New programs to protect immigrants in these jurisdictions are being made with firm support. Considering all of this, it seems that President Trump will need to form a new policy to enforce his views on immigration.