The Trump administration is getting ready to bring the full force of the law down on cities and states that are still hiding behind so-called “sanctuary policies” to flaunt federal immigration statutes.
In a letter to 23 jurisdictions on Wednesday, the Department of Justice warned local officials that their window of compliance was closing. They could either provide documentation proving that they were abiding by federal law or they would face a subpoena for said documents. If they can provide no such documentation in either case – if they are, in other words, blatantly refusing to cooperate with federal immigration authorities – they will almost certainly lose federal grants tied to such cooperation.
In previous communication with these cities and states, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has explained that it is the Justice Department’s contention that federal law explicitly ties Byrne JAG grant money (intended for law enforcement agencies) to cooperation with federal immigration authorities.
The Trump administration insists that the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 prohibits local and state governments from enacting any laws that keep officials from communicating with ICE or Border Patrol agents. The Obama administration made compliance with that law a specific contingency upon which continued federal grant money was based. You pass sanctuary laws, you don’t get the money.
Of course, Obama never bothered to actually enforce that clause.
The letter angered the Democrat mayors of America’s three largest cities. Bill de Blasio of New York, Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, and Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles were all scheduled to meet with President Trump at the White House on Wednesday; they summarily refused to attend after their jurisdictions received the memo.
“I will NOT be attending today’s meeting at the White House after @realDonaldTrump’s Department of Justice decided to renew their racist assault on our immigrant communities,” de Blasio wrote on Twitter. “It doesn’t make us safer and it violates America’s core values.”
“There is not a single mayor in this country who says, ‘Please, if you’re a criminal, come on over. And if you’re undocumented, bonus points,’” Garcetti said at a news conference. “This is a myth, and it’s pure politics. Let’s be clear about what this is; it’s the politics of distraction and destruction.”
President Trump said the mayors who decided to avoid the White House had proven to the public that their allegiance was misplaced.
“The mayors who choose to boycott this event have put the needs of criminal illegal immigrants over law-abiding Americans,” Trump said. “But let me tell you, the vast majority of people showed up because the vast majority believe in safety for your city.”
You would think that this week – this week, if any – Democrat mayors would recognize that the American people are not as enchanted with illegal immigrants as the media and their party leaders believe. The federal shutdown over DACA was a political disaster, and recent polls show that the majority of Americans are closer to Trump’s view of these issues than the Democrats’. If these mayors are still determined to dig their heels into the sand and fight for illegal immigrants (and not just illegal immigrants, but criminal illegal immigrants), they may lose more than federal grant money when it’s all said and done.