Saturday, January 25, 2020

Trump Administration Softens Up On Its Threat Against ‘Sanctuary Cities’

In the war against the ‘sanctuary’ cities and counties that have refused to comply with the Trump administration’s aggressive immigration enforcement tactics, the administration has settled on a very narrow interpretation of what it means to be a “sanctuary city.” In limiting the potential consequences for state and local governments, ‘sanctuary’ jurisdictions will now lose only grants from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Homeland Security Department (DHS) – not all federal funds, according to an order signed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick III blocked enforcement of Trump’s order nationwide on April 25, ruling that it violated the Constitution and brought on “substantial confusion and justified fear” in local governments that they would lose all their federal grants, not just their law enforcement funding. “The president has called it ‘a weapon’ to use against jurisdictions that disagree with his preferred policies of immigration enforcement,” said Orrick, appointed a judge by President Obama.

Judge Orrick’s ruling was an early setback for the Trump administration, however, judges have also frozen his travel ban, and he has failed to secure border wall funding from Congress. Campaigning with a focus on immigrants with criminal records, the Trump administration failed to spell out what it meant to be a ‘sanctuary city.’

“I am glad to see that … Sessions has taken the time to define — or, at the very least, finally taken the time to understand — what a sanctuary city is and is not,” said Eduardo De La Riva, Councilman from the Southeast Los Angeles County suburb Maywood. “It’s great to see that the president’s administration is finally catching up with what many of us already know.”

Immigration rights advocates cite Sessions’ memo as an admission that the law is not on the side of the ‘sanctuary city’ argument. For now, ‘sanctuary cities’ will be safe from the threat of losing full federal funding, however, Attorney General Sessions’ memo makes it clear that the administration will continue to find a way to use the power of federal funding to push for enforcement compliance.

LA Times