In May, President Trump released his budget blueprint for 2018 to lawmakers in which he requested that Congress make it illegal for local law enforcement not to cooperate with federal immigration agents. So-called “sanctuary cities,” or jurisdictions that have been incentivized by the Obama Administration’s budget not to cooperate with federal officials, would now be incentivized to do the opposite, or risk breaking federal law and losing their funding from Byrne JAG Grants.
The federal government will need to come up with a spending plan to keep the government open after current funding expires December 8th, or it will risk a partial shutdown and the accompanying political drama. Republicans, in particular, will need the courage to stick to their promises to the conservative base on immigration and reducing spending, which Trump’s proposal would deliver on to their constituents. Many conservative politicos feel that it would be political suicide for 2018 if Republicans don’t back the President’s budget.
The Trump Administration has already tried to single-handedly eliminate sanctuary cities by having the Justice Department threaten to end grant funding to local law enforcement that refused to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. However, the Justice Department has lost its case challenging cities such as Chicago in federal court on multiple occasions as the liberal courts declared the federal government did not have the authority to dictate how local law enforcement agencies govern their jurisdictions.
Of course, a less political ruling as pointed out by Judge Napolitano on Fox News would have declared that the Trump Administration would need to pass a budget that gets rid of the Obama Administration incentives, since only Congress can end funding programs. Currently, the majority of the American public is on the side of the Trump Administration, as shown by a February Harvard-Harris poll where “an overwhelming 80 percent of voters said local authorities should have to comply with immigration laws by reporting to federal agents about illegal immigrants they come into contact with.”
Sheriff Bob Gualtieri of Pinellas County, Florida stated that he sympathizes with the DOJ’s efforts, saying: “What DOJ is trying to do is to get these noncomplying jurisdictions to comply with what should be common sense in effect of public safety.” Gualtieri was critical of the fact that a public safety issue has become a controversial political debate, explaining that most sheriffs want to help federal immigration enforcement, especially when it means protecting the public from convicted criminals here illegally.
In late September, ICE conducted Operation Safe City, in which agents went into jurisdictions currently operating as sanctuary cities. The agents targeted criminal aliens who were unlawfully present in the country and who had previous criminal convictions. Agents were forced to apprehend these dangerous criminals on the streets, endangering the officers and the general public because sanctuary policies allowed them to be released back into the community following their sentences.
ICE reported that it had arrested a total of 498 illegal aliens from 42 countries during the four-day operation. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, the “crimes committed by those arrested range from simple immigration violations to more severe crimes such as aggravated assault and rape.” At least 104 individuals had been previously deported and “86 carry convictions for driving under the influence, which has become more common as a deadly consequence of not enforcing immigration laws.”