Siege on Sanctuary Cities

Henry Grabar scrutinizes President Trump’s executive order – reinstating Secure Communities and 287(g) agreements – as threats against Sanctuary Cities.

“Trump is gearing up to deputize cities as the foot soldiers in his fight to round up illegal immigrants. But to do so without help from Congress, he must first rely on an unusually expansive interpretation of federal law to find sanctuary cities illegal. That likely means a court battle is imminent, the first turn in a political reversal that will define the Trump era: a GOP administration grasping for federal power pitted against states and cities trumpeting local control. At stake are the livelihoods of millions of immigrant families that have made sanctuary jurisdictions from Boston to Portland, Oregon, home.”

“The text of the executive order, titled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” accuses sanctuary cities of causing “immeasurable harm to the American people and to the fabric of our Republic.” It restores to full strength two controversial programs of the Bush and Obama years—287(g) agreements and the Secure Communities Program—that harnessed local police and sheriffs to enforce federal immigration law. And it directs the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to publish a weekly public list of crimes committed by aliens in sanctuary jurisdictions: a police blotter of crimes by brown people. What exactly constitutes a sanctuary jurisdiction? That’s up to Trump’s DHS.”

“Here’s where things get complicated. When cities refuse to hold someone in a cell or notify ICE of a release date, they’re withholding practical information—but not information about immigration or citizenship. That’s why sanctuary cities and states believe they don’t violate the federal law cited in Trump’s order.
There’s a clear difference between telling officials not to share information and telling officials not to detain people, pointed out Adam Cox, a law professor at New York University.”

Read more: The Siege of Sanctuary Cities Has Begun, Slate