As protestors gathered in action against President Donald Trump’s executive order that would immediately halt funding to “sanctuary cities” that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration policies, city officials across the nation prepare themselves for what will surely be a long, hard fight.
The New York Times reports that mayors from cities like New York and Chicago are ready to act in defiance of Trump’s order, which stated that cities and counties established as such —meaning that they don’t comply with federal orders to detain illegal immigrants arrested for non-immigration related offenses and aren’t required to turn them over to authorities —“are not eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes.”
Speaking at a press conference Wednesday, New York City mayor Bill De Blasio said “We’re going to defend all of our people regardless of where they come from, regardless of their immigration status.” Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel echoed these sentiments, saying “I want to be clear: We’re going to stay a sanctuary city. There is no stranger among us. Whether you’re from Poland or Pakistan, whether you’re from Ireland or India or Israel and whether you’re from Mexico or Moldova, where my grandfather came from, you are welcome in Chicago as you pursue the American dream.”
Despite Trump’s strident insistence that funding for these cities will be cut, the Times reports that it’s not entirely clear how extensive the cuts will be. Peter L. Markowitz, the director of the Immigration Justice Clinic at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York said that making the kind of sweeping budget cuts to cities as proposed by Trump in his executive orders would be difficult to execute. “The rhetoric doesn’t match the legal authority,” he said. “In fact, the president has very limited power to exercise any kind of significant defunding.”
A group of California senators are vowing to fight the order in court, with the help of former attorney general Eric J. Holder. And in Boston, Mayor Martin J. Walsh offered City Hall as literal sanctuary for the residents of his city. “To anyone who feels threatened today, or vulnerable, you are safe in Boston,” he said. “We will do everything lawful in our powerful to protect you. If necessary, we will use City Hall itself to shelter and protect anyone who’s targeted unjustly.”