As expected, President Trump signed an executive order today that threatens to strip federal funding from sanctuary cities that have refused to aid his administration in their promised attempts to round up and deport immigrants. New York is one such sanctuary city, and we stand to lose billions of dollars that go toward social services, education, and health—all for standing up to Trump.
The order ran in tandem with another executive order calling for a crackdown on illegal immigration, including one furthering the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. The executive order related to sanctuary cities will nix all federal funds except for those related to law enforcement. Per the order:
Sanctuary jurisdictions across the United States willfully violate Federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States. These jurisdictions have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic...
... In furtherance of this policy, the Attorney General and the Secretary, in their discretion and to the extent consistent with law, shall ensure that jurisdictions that willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373 (sanctuary jurisdictions) are not eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary. The Secretary has the authority to designate, in his discretion and to the extent consistent with law, a jurisdiction as a sanctuary jurisdiction. The Attorney General shall take appropriate enforcement action against any entity that violates 8 U.S.C. 1373, or which has in effect a statute, policy, or practice that prevents or hinders the enforcement of Federal law.
To further their anti-immigrant propaganda, it appears the White House will publish a weekly list of crimes allegedly committed by undocumented immigrants:
Trump administration will publish a weekly list of crimes purportedly committed by undocumented immigrants in sanctuary cities. pic.twitter.com/GzTOo2Iub4
— Will Sommer (@willsommer) January 25, 2017
Trump has long threatened to punish the sanctuary cities that aim to defy him—these include Chicago, Austin, Boston, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New Haven, Madison, Newark, San Francisco, Seattle, and Santa Fe, as well as NYC. Mayor de Blasio set aside about $7 billion of his $84.67 billion proposed 2017 budget as federal funding, and though that's not such a huge chunk, low-income New Yorkers will likely be impacted if the funds are withheld.
"Federal funding goes predominantly toward social services, education and health. To the extent that the federal government pulls back on these things, it will put pressure on the state and the city," Maria Doulis, director of city studies for the Citizens Budget Commission, told Gothamist today. "And there is a limit to how much the city can do to address these needs on its own," she added.
Earlier today, de Blasio told reporters the city has no plan to back down on its dedication to shielding immigrants from federal authorities. "We are doing the right thing. We have a city that is working economically, that is more harmonious and that is safer," he said at a press conference. "It’s working. We’re not going to deviate from that." That was before the White House released Trump's executive order, on which neither the Mayor's office nor Governor Cuomo have put out statements—the mayor plans to hold a press conference later today to address it.
Public Advocate Letitia James released a statement this afternoon:
Today, President Donald Trump signed two executive orders that turned his dangerous campaign rhetoric into reality. But no executive action will change our shared American values which include supporting immigrants and rejecting racism and bigotry. In New York, we will continue to stand by our immigrant brothers and sisters. We reject the President’s approach to sanctuary cities. We must and we will defy his efforts to divide us. We will fight the ban, we will fight the wall, and we will remain united.
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito said she was "disgusted" by the executive order, noting, "We are a nation, we are a city of immigrants, and somehow we seem to forget that."
— Mara Gay (@MaraGay) January 25, 2017
Immigrant rights groups say they won't let Trump bully sanctuary cities. Javier H. Valdés, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York, told Gothamist in a statement, "Donald Trump wants to attack cities like New York that value, welcome, and protect immigrants. What he is trying to do is offensive and it is unconstitutional. He will not succeed. Immigrants will stand up and demonstrate that we are here to stay, and we will work with allied elected officials to demonstrate that our beloved city will not be intimidated or moved by his xenophobic policies." He added that the group plans to explore all legal avenues to block his actions if he attempts to coerce localities into adopting anti-immigrant policy."
Alisa Wellek, Executive Director of the Immigrant Defense Project, echoed Valdés, telling Gothamist, "Donald Trump seeks to force cities and local law enforcement to be complicit in a broken immigration system that undermines our values, violates constitutional rights, and threatens residents’ safety. We are proud to support New York's elected officials who have promised to stand up to the legally questionable and overreaching attacks President Trump has made against our City simply for doing what is in the best interest of all New Yorkers."
It's possible Trump won't actually be able to totally withhold federal funds, despite his threats—the Supreme Court decision in South Dakota v. Dole outlines a series of strict tests dictating how Congress can withhold federal funding to achieve certain policy goals. Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, whose office issued legal guidance last week for sanctuary jurisdictions, said as much in a statement this afternoon, pressing Trump to revoke the order:
— Eric Schneiderman (@AGSchneiderman) January 25, 2017
Of course, Trump will be picking a new Supreme Court judge (next Thursday, apparently), so that decision could eventually be overturned.
De Blasio will speak to reporters at 5 p.m., and the briefing will be livestreamed here. Meanwhile, here are some tips we've compiled from immigration attorneys and immigrants' rights groups for immigrants in NYC.