The ongoing political battle surrounding immigration and the role that sanctuary cities play in helping shield immigrants from federal retribution took a new and unexpected turn yesterday.
- Texan Governor makes official new anti-immigrant law to take effect from September 1st.
- A District Judge in April blocked Trump’s executive order seeking to withhold funds from ‘Sanctuary Cities’ like L.A and San Francisco, sparking furious reaction from the White House.
- What are the sanctuary cities that do not comply with federal immigration enforcement efforts?
Against a background of extreme tension and a crumbling relationship with America’s judiciary, Donald Trump’s war against illegal immigration in the USA’s ‘Sanctuary Cities’ is reaching new heights in moves and counter-moves that decide the fate of millions.
A new law punishing local authorities who do not abide by requests to cooperate with federal immigration agents. was signed by the Republican governor of Texas, disheartening news to left-leaning campaignersd who had celebrated District Judge William Orrick’s decision to block the removal of funds as a punishment.
The law also allows police new powers to ask about a person’s immigration status following minor infractions such as jay-walking.
From September 1st, police officials found to be in violation of the new law, signed on Sunday, could lose their jobs, face fines and up to a year in prison.
“As governor, my top priority is public safety, and this bill furthers that objective by keeping dangerous criminals off our streets,” Governor Abbott said in an accompanying statement.
However, police chiefs of the state’s biggest cities decried the law and spoke in opposition of the bill that they said would hinder their ability to fight crime.
Twists and Turns
Last week U.S. District Judge William Orrick passed a ruling that Trump went above his presidential authority on signing an executive order to withhold all federal funding from the local jurisdictions deemed to be “sanctuary” cities – namely San Francisco, L.A, Houston, Dallas and Miami in the south.
Judge Orrick stated that the president has the power to withhold a certain amount of funding and ruled that the Trump administration can withhold funding under those legal circumstances and stipulations.
“The Constitution vests the spending powers in Congress, not the President, so the Order cannot constitutionally place new conditions on federal funds,” Orrick stated.
San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee applauded the ruling, with California Attorney General Xavier Becerra stating his belief that it will allow local governments to fight back against “executive overreach” displayed by the Trump administration.
“Today’s decision is a historic affirmation of the U.S. Constitution’s core principles — that the President cannot usurp powers not given to him, and that the federal government cannot use federal defunding to coerce local governments into becoming federal immigration enforcers,” Santa Clara County counsel James Williams stated.
What is a Sanctuary City?
A sanctuary city is defined as a city that limits its cooperation with the national government effort to enforce immigration law.
The role of a sanctuary city is mostly symbolic as city officials don’t have the power to stop federal government agents from deporting people but in the spirit of America’s founding principles as a nation of immigrants, sanctuary cities act as a kind of protective shield, blocking federal efforts to detect and deport America’s 11 million undocumented immigrants.
Faith communities started what became known as the “Sanctuary Movement” in the early 80s as a symbolic extension of the medieval tradition of churches providing shelter to everyone regardless of their crimes.
In short, the sanctuary movement sees immigrants as refugees rather than outlaws, and this is position that Donald Trump definitely does not share.
No Sanctuary for Trump?
Trump’s disdain for the role of sanctuary cities resonated deeply with conservative America and formed the basis for the movement that led him to power.
However, repeated failures in attempts to limit movement and impose harsher border control is chipping away at the public persona and the inner confidence of America’s most controversial and outspoken leader to date.
The chaos from Trump’s first 100 days looks set to continue and Governor Abbott’s ruling shows that anti-immigrant Trump still has some friends in politics, and political forces that share his hard line approach to law and order.