As Donald Trump’s fast-out-of-the-gate start in his presidential tenure begins with major moves on immigration, advocates prepare for battle on issues like sanctuary cities. Taking a whirlwind pace in adopting policies designed to tighten immigration and border controls, the social and political fallout from the moves are still taking shape.
The varied dynamics at play means immigration will remain center stage as nuances and implications around Trump administration policies play out. At the crux of Trump’s immigration position is the need to keep undocumented immigrants out of the country. To this, immigration advocates say the personal biographies of many undocumented immigrants residing in the country means their situations are more complex than simply determining legal status.
Along the same lines, President Trump has also called out sanctuary cities– municipalities where officials charged with governance, enforcement, and services don’t take legal status into account. Although sanctuary cities existed long before he came on the political scene, President Trump has also expressed a desire to eliminate federal funds going to these cities’ coffers.
Sanctuary city advocates are already getting their backs up as they prepare lawsuits designed to limit the scope and reach of the president’s executive actions, which orders a withholding of funds to cities with institutional policies to withhold information about undocumented immigrants.
Sanctuary cities already have plenty of tools for resistance, according to the Wall Street Journal. “The court has ruled that the U.S. Constitution bars the federal government from commandeering state officials or using federal funds to ‘coerce’ states into doing the bidding of Washington.”
In a 2012 ruling centered on federal funding, the court ruled that the federal government can’t expel states from the Medicaid program in cases where state officials refused to expand the program.
Legal reasons the federal government is allowed to withhold grant money from a city or state revolve around the purpose of a grant, according to WSJ. While federal officials are within their rights to withhold monies from state or local governments, their reasons for doing so must relate directly to the purposes specified around the purpose of the grant.The federal government can’t withhold funds from highway grants, for instance, even if the road travels through a sanctuary city.