Withholding funds: Trump begins crackdown on sanctuary cities

Thanks to a ruling from the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan on February 26, federal funding can be withheld from sanctuary cities and states across America. Thursday President Trump delivered a message via tweet – sanctuary cities had better change their status or federal funding will be cut.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1235568602696355840

The ruling came after numerous courts had ruled against the Trump administration claiming it didn’t have the authority to impose immigration-related conditions on certain funding. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals said, hold on, there’s a grant program for that.

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled on Feb. 26 that the Department of Justice (DOJ) could withhold funding from cities and states that refuse to cooperate with the Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants.

The three-judge panel found Congress had delegated authority to the attorney general to set conditions on the federal grant program it had created, called the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program.

The policy decision from the Trump administration was announced in 2017 and the lawsuits followed. The policy is to be a deterrent to cities and states that want to ignore federal immigration law and allow illegal immigrants to live and work in their cities without legal consequences, the first step being deportation. Federal law trumps, so to speak, state and local jurisdiction on immigration. Cities don’t get to dictate which federal laws they will or will not enforce.

While an appeal will be filed over the ruling, the original lawsuit dates back to 2017 when Jeff Sessions was the Attorney General.

A group of seven states and New York City sued the DOJ in 2017 after then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the agency would start withholding funding from local governments that refused to share information about undocumented immigrants or provide jail access to federal authorities investigating inmates’ immigration status.

Officials that backed the lawsuit pledged to challenge the appeals court ruling.

Last month Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced the deployment of the elite tactical BORTAC agents to help arrest and deport illegal immigrants. Expanded surveillance operations and additional manpower will provide aid to carry out the arrests and deportations. Several major cities are targeted as the operations begin. Efforts began last month and will continue through December.

Intensifying its enforcement in so-called sanctuary cities across the country, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has begun 24-hour-a-day surveillance operations around the homes and workplaces of undocumented immigrants. The agency plans to deploy hundreds of additional officers in unmarked cars in the coming weeks to increase arrests in cities where local law enforcement agencies do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.

ICE leadership has requested at least 500 special agents who normally conduct long-term investigations into dangerous criminals and traffickers to join the enhanced arrest campaign rolling out in sanctuary cities, according to an internal email reviewed by The New York Times.

For years sanctuary cities have stubbornly resisted immigration enforcement and efforts by the federal government. President Trump is rightfully frustrated. When all else fails, hit them in the pocketbook. The administration said the task force will “flood the streets” to get the job done.

Because immigration law violations are civil infractions rather than criminal ones, the officers deployed in the expanded ICE operations cannot, in most cases, obtain warrants to forcibly enter places where their subjects are hiding.

Instead, ICE officers are embarking on the aggressive surveillance campaign, which involves closely watching some individuals for more than 12 hours a day in the hopes of arresting them outside their homes or workplaces.

Capturing illegal aliens outside of their homes will eliminate the visual trauma that innocent children may experience seeing their parent or loved one taken away in handcuffs. Going to a door and knocking often leads to those inside refusing to open the door to law enforcement because they are being told by local officials that they should refuse to cooperate. Mayors in cities hold press conferences and tell illegal residents to be uncooperative, especially because it is the bad Orange Man’s orders.

If the operation really did begin last month, then kudos to the administration for doing it quietly. There hasn’t been an abundance of stories meant to pull at your heartstrings about the people affected – the media works overtime to make them the victims, not the perpetrators in breaking the law in the first place when they illegally entered the United States. It looks like the federal agents are taking a common-sense approach and continuing their work despite uncooperative mayors and local officials. Officers have the ability to exercise discretion.

An official familiar with the latest ICE operation said its agents were targeting individuals who, because of sanctuary policies, were let go by local police officers even though the agency had asked for them to be temporarily held in custody.

The official said that while some of those targets have been apprehended in the effort, the majority of the arrests have been “collateral” — undocumented individuals who were not targeted, but who happened to be present during an attempted apprehension.

Mr. Lucero said that no one living in the United States illegally was safe from deportation, but that officers could exercise discretion in choosing whether to make such collateral arrests.

It’s a start. While law enforcement does its job, a wallop to the pocketbook of sanctuary cities should provide reinforcement for success.