Despite significant pushback from Democrat mayors around the country, the Trump administration is ratcheting up the pressure on sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests. In letters to nine jurisdictions on Friday, the Justice Department warned officials in New York, Chicago, New Orleans, and elsewhere that they were putting their federal grant money in jeopardy.
Both President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have said that sanctuary cities will not be tolerated under this administration. In an executive order, Trump demanded that his Cabinet research ways the federal government could force these cities into compliance with national immigration law. By sending the letters on Friday, the DOJ indicated that cities like New York and San Francisco are putting important community funds at risk. In some cases, these cities could lose federal money intended for law enforcement programs like body cameras and bulletproof vests.
In the letters, the Justice Department said that by shielding illegal immigrants from deportation, these cities were making life more dangerous for their own residents.
Several of the jurisdictions, however, bit back hard on the allegations.
“We’re not going to cave to these threats,” said Marina Dimitrijevic, the Milwaukee County Supervisor.
California State Senate leader Kevin de Leon said the administration’s demands were based on “principles of white supremacy.”
“Their constant and systematic targeting of diverse cities and states goes beyond constitutional norms and will be challenged at every level,” he said.
The New York City mayor’s office said, “This grandstanding shows how out of touch the Trump administration is with reality.”
If push comes to shove, many of these cities will sue to protect their federal grant money, and it’s a bad look for the Trump administration to be in a position where they’re taking away funds meant for local law enforcement agencies. This is a political mess that could go south in a hurry, especially if the courts find – as some expect – that the federal government cannot place contingencies on the money after the agreements have already been put in place.
So hopefully, this can be resolved without resorting to a strongarm approach. Democrats are licking their lips for another legal battle, seeing as how successful they’ve been in blocking Trump’s immigration and refugee ban. Every time they knock the administration on its heels, the donations come pouring in.
Therefore, President Trump would be wise to fight these policies in the court of public opinion. Show Americans just how dangerous these sanctuary policies are. Let these Democrats explain to their constituents why they are putting the rights of illegal immigrant criminals above the safety and security of their cities. That’s a strategy that can win in the end.