by Nick Taylor
Pushback began as soon as President Trump issued his executive order that threatens to cut off funds for sanctuary cities if they don’t join federal deportation orders.
Thousands of protestors took to the streets in New York and rallied in Washington Square Park.
And you saw the instant reaction on Twitter with hashtags like #ImmigrantsWelcome, #NoBanNoWall and #StandIndivisible.
And on other social media including Facebook, immigrant rights groups and lawyers offered support and guidance.
Perhaps more significantly, elected officials around the country also spoke out quickly and firmly in opposition to the plan that White House press secretary Sean Spicer described at his press briefing. “We’re going to strip federal grant money from the sanctuary states and cities that harbor illegal immigrants. The American people are no longer going to have to be forced to subsidize this disregard for our laws,” Spicer said.
New York City receives close to $9 billion in federal funding, nearly 9 percent of its annual budget. Some of that money goes toward the NYPD’s intelligence and counterterrorism budget, child protective services, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, and housing vouchers affecting 39,000 families, according to the real estate site Curbed,
But Mayor Bill de Blasio threatened to sue the Trump Administration if it withdraws money. He said, “The executive order will not change how we enforce the law or how we do business on behalf of the people, all 8.5 million New Yorkers. We have half a million New Yorkers who are undocumented and they are part of the fabric of this city.” He went on to say, “We are going to defend all of our people regardless of where they come from, regardless of their immigration status.”
Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Boston are among the other major cities that shield law-abiding immigrants from round-up and deportation and their mayors clearly said they will not participate in an attack on immigrants.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel told The New York Times, “We’re going to stay a sanctuary city. There is no stranger among us.”
And Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said, “To anyone who feels threatened today, or vulnerable, you are safe in Boston.” And he also made it plain on Twitter.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says the state remains a “refuge” for those who feel threatened by Trump’s deportation policies.
The president’s order apparently stands on shaky legal ground. Courts have ruled that funds can be cut only if the programs the money goes to are directly related to immigration. California takes the position that under the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, local governments can’t be made to enforce federal laws.
Conservative governors, however, are making similar financial threats. Austin, Texas, the state’s capital and the seat of Travis County, is a sanctuary city. Governor Greg Abbott has told Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez he’ll cut off $1.8 million in state grants if her deputies don’t start rounding up illegals. And he said he’d try to remove her from office.
For the time being, the nearly 800,000 young people covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program started in 2012 appear to be unaffected by Trump’s executive order. Immigration hawks are trying to change that, however.