From New York and Boston to Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco, officials representing the country’s largest so-called “sanctuary cities” denounced President Donald Trump’s “crackdown” on communities that shield undocumented immigrants from deportation.
After Trump signed an executive order eliminating most federal funding for cities with sanctuary policies in place, mayors and attorneys general came forward to declare that they had no intention of reversing course. It does not apply to law enforcement funds.
“We will not be intimidated by the threat to federal funding,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said at a press conference in which he shared the stage with immigrant city workers.
“I want everyone to just get a picture of those behind me today,” he said. “This is America who’s behind me: the many immigrants who work for the city of Boston and the many first generation Americans who work for the city of Boston.”
Trump’s executive order, titled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” would make it so that these communities, which do not fully comply with federal immigration enforcement agencies, would not be “eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposed by the Attorney General or the Secretary [of Homeland Security].”
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, a Democrat who sued the president for fraud in the case involving Trump University, said that he would fight the executive order if Trump did not revoke it.
“The President lacks the constitutional authority to cut off funding to states and cities simply because they have lawfully acted to protect immigrant families,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Local governments seeking to protect their immigrant communities from federal overreach have every right to do so.”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said executive orders do not change and cannot contradict existing law. California has passed laws limiting local jails from holding low-level offenders just so they can be deported, among other protections.
“These are rights and protections which have survived numerous legal challenges over time. And they are grounded on our federal and state constitutions not on an executive pronouncement,” Becerra said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, said the executive order would not change policing in the city.
“The stroke of a pen in Washington D.C. does not change the people of New York City or our values,” de Blasio said. “It does not change how this city government protects its people and it will not change how we enforce the law in New York City or how we do business on behalf of the people all 8.5 million New Yorkers.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says the city regularly cooperate with immigration officials, but said the LAPD will not enforce federal immigration laws. “That’s an official LAPD policy that has been enforced for nearly 40 years.”
“That is for everyone’s good, because trust between police and the people they serve is absolutely essential to effective law enforcement,” he said.
San Francisco’s mayor confirmed the city’s sanctuary status in defiance of Trump. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said “we will not be intimidated by the authoritarian message coming from this administration.” Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said the city would remain a “sanctuary city.”
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said in a statement Wednesday that “the executive order does not change the mission of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.”
“Our department policy clearly states that our deputies do not ask for one’s immigration status. Immigration enforcement remains a federal responsibility,” he added.
Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said that local law enforcement must be able to protect and communicate with undocumented immigrants without fear of inquiry, and that an undocumented status alone is a federal civil violation. “Police leaders across the country are aligned on this issue,” she said.
However, others praised Trump’s actions. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry supported pulling federal funding from cities that won’t comply.
“I fully support the president in withholding federal funding from cities who engage in sanctuary city polices,” Landry said. “Sanctuary city policies are dangerous to citizens who are lawfully in this country.”
The National Border Patrol Council, a union that represents Border Patrol employees, said of Trump’s executive actions on sanctuary cities and a border wall: “This has been a long day coming.”