Tuesday 12 November 2019

What are sanctuary cities and why is Trump trying to take away funds from them?

By Taylor Heyman

Here’s what you need to know.

Donald Trump has lashed out at a judge’s ruling blocking his attempt to strip funds from “sanctuary cities” that don’t co-operate with US immigration authorities, calling it “ridiculous” and vowing to go to the Supreme Court.

So what are sanctuary cities and why did a judge block Trump’s proposals?

What are sanctuary cities?

A sanctuary city is generally accepted as one which does not allow municipal funds or resources to be spent on enforcing federal immigration requests.

This includes civil detainer requests in which Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers request that a local jail detain an inmate for up to 48 hours after their scheduled release date so immigration officials can decide if they want to detain them.

The rules are different in each sanctuary city as they are set by the local government, but it generally means local jails will not turn illegal immigrants in to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers after they have been charged or served jail time.

New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Houston are sanctuary cities, among others.

There are approximately 11 million undocumented migrants living in the US right now. Supporters of sanctuary cities say the rules make cities safer as undocumented individuals are able to report crime without fear of being handed over to immigration officials.

What did Trump’s executive order say, and why was it halted by a judge?

The executive order was designed to halt federal funding to areas which limit co-operation with immigration officials, in effect forcing them to report undocumented immigrants. Unfortunately for Trump, a San Francisco district judge has thwarted the order.

US District Judge William Orrick said the president had no authority to attach new conditions of his own to spending that was approved by Congress.

The judge further ruled that Trump’s order threatened a wide range of funding — not the relatively small amount the Justice Department claimed — and that the government cannot cut off funding if there is no clear connection between the money and the policy at issue.

Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the president was well within his power to issue the executive order and the Department of Justice would continue to fight the cases in court. It was not clear, however, whether he planned to appeal Orrick’s ruling.

How did Trump react?

As usual, Trump’s reaction came via Twitter. In a series of tweets he slammed the court, accusing groups against the ban of “judge shopping”.

Are sanctuary cities safe,then?

No. There are plenty of other options for the Trump administration.

Trump could appeal to the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, but that was the court that blocked the president’s first travel ban against seven Muslim countries. Eighteen of the 25 active judges on the court were appointed by Democrats.

In his tweets he stated he wants to go to the Supreme Court, which would have the final say if it decided to take up the case.

Local government is also taking action against sanctuary cities. The Republican-controlled Texas House approved a strict ban on them on Thursday, which would see funding withheld from county and local governments in Texas which support sanctuary measures and would jail police chiefs and other officials who don’t help to enforce immigration law.

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