Trump Orders Punishment of Cities That Protect Undocumented Immigrants

Donald Trump is wasting no time following through on his campaign promises when it comes to immigration.

Yesterday, he signed an executive order saying the federal government could stop sending money to sanctuary cities. This is bad news, not only for undocumented immigrants but also for anyone who live in cities like New York City, Chicago, and San Diego.

Sanctuary cities are cities that enact their own local laws saying officials don’t have to cooperate with federal immigration officials. The federal government is responsible for carrying out immigration laws and handles deporting people who aren’t in the country legally.

Some argue that undercutting federal laws by protecting undocumented immigrants is harmful, because it causes a rift between local and federal law enforcement. Meanwhile, others argue there’s no reason to deport undocumented immigrants who are living peacefully and aren’t violent criminals. In fact, some statistics show sanctuary cities tend to be safer for all inhabitants.

Listening to Trump’s rhetoric on immigration, it’s easy to forget that urban crime has little to do with immigration. The vast majority of violent criminals are born and raised in the U.S., and there’s no compelling evidence that undocumented immigrants commit violent crimes at a higher rate than citizens. But Trump has somehow gotten it into his head that purging the country of undocumented immigrants will decrease the crime rate.

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But it looks like the opposite might be true. A study from 2013 showed that crimes might go unreported in non-sanctuary cities, because immigrants are afraid they’ll be deported if they speak up. Stricter immigration law enforcement can actually cause people to trust police and law enforcement less. From Mother Jones:

A 2013 study by the Department of Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois-Chicago surveyed Latinos in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. It found that the increased involvement of local police in immigration enforcement in those cities had eroded trust in the legal system among both legal and illegal immigrants. Of those surveyed, 38 percent said they felt like they were under more suspicion and 45 percent said they were less likely to report a crime as a result—70 percent of the undocumented immigrants said so. The erosion of trust was felt most acutely in Phoenix, where Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has put strict immigration enforcement at the center of his agenda.

In fact, Trump’s executive order could make cities more dangerous. That’s because the money Trump wants to withhold often goes to policing and law enforcement. Having less cash for these programs could result in more dangerous cities overall.

The good news is mayors of sanctuary cities apparently have no intention of tossing out undocumented immigrants.

Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago, had this to say:

“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.”

And New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio also made it clear that NYC would remain a safe haven for undocumented immigrants, saying the city would “defend all of our people regardless of where they come from, regardless of their immigration status.”

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Even better news: when the federal government has tried to withhold money from cities based on the cities’ policies before, the Supreme Court stopped them. What Trump essentially wants to do is force city governments to behave the way he wants them to, or else they don’t get financial aid from the federal government. A Supreme Court ruling from 1987 ruled that Congress wasn’t allowed to do that. One issue: that ruling applies to Congress, not the president. Still, it seems like what Trump’s ordered might not stand up in court if anyone wanted to challenge it.

People living in sanctuary cities aren’t stoked about Trump’s order. In fact, last night, thousands of people gathered in New York City’s Washington Square Park to protest it.

City Controller Scott Stringer had some strong words, according to the New York Daily News.

“Donald Trump, you idiot,” he said. “This town can’t live and operate and function without the immigrant community.”

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