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The mayors of American cities from coast to coast vowed to defy Donald Trump’s extremist immigration orders, pledging to protect undocumented residents despite the President’s legally-questionable threats to pull federal funding.
In California — home to the nation’s largest population of undocumented residents — city and state leaders were unequivocal in their support for immigrant families. “We will not spend a cent or lift a finger to help his actions,” said State Senate leader Kevin de León. “If the new president wants to wage a campaign of fear against innocent families, he can count us out.”
In a joint statement, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo pledged to “stand together in our responsibility to keep our cities safe and healthy and take care of all our residents and families, regardless of status. We will not give in to threats, or political grandstanding.”
“The executive order does not change who we are or how we go about doing our work,“ said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“We will not deport law-abiding New Yorkers, we will not tear families apart, we will not leave children without their parents, we will not take breadwinners away from families who have no one else. And we’re not going to undermine the hard-won trust that has developed between our police and their communities.”
In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel declared that “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.”
In Washington DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser said that she “will not let the residents of DC live in fear. The District is and will continue to be a sanctuary city.”
In Seattle, Mayor Ed Murray smacked down Trump’s federal funding threats, saying he would be “willing to lose every single penny to protect” immigrant residents. “This city will not be bullied by this administration into abandoning our core values, and we believe we have the rule of law and the courts on our side.”
In Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh pledged to use “City Hall itself as a last resort” to protect undocumented residents.
“The latest executive orders and statements by the president about immigrants are a direct attack on Boston’s people, Boston’s strength and Boston’s values. I want to say directly to anyone who feels threatened today or vulnerable you are safe in Boston. We will do everything in our power to protect you.”
In Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said that “this is not a dictatorship. This is a democracy. We will take avail of every opportunity we have to protect our citizens and protect our people who are living in our city.”
In red Arizona, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said “the president’s executive orders will not make us safer, but instead will incite fear and chaos for Latinos and immigrants alike. We will fight the federal government’s attempt to turn the Phoenix Police Department into a mass deportation force.”
According to the New York Times, Trump’s threats to pull federal funding from these cities could face potential legal challenges:
“The rhetoric doesn’t match the legal authority,” said Peter L. Markowitz, the director of the Immigration Justice Clinic at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York. “In fact, the president has very limited power to exercise any kind of significant defunding.”
According to a 2012 Supreme Court decision, Mr. Markowitz said, Congress is not permitted to set conditions on spending to coerce states or localities to participate in a federal program against their will. Any conditions, at a minimum, must be directly related to the punitive action.
In other words, Mr. Markowitz said: “You can’t say ‘if you don’t use your police officers to go after unauthorized immigrants, you don’t get any money for your hospitals.’ They can’t impose conditions that are totally unrelated.”
Since the Presidential election last November, local leaders from 30 states and Washington, DC have now affirmed or are reaffirming commitments to help protect immigrant residents of their communities from Donald Trump’s destructive deportation proposals. A comprehensive list is available here.