January 26, 2017

Trump to defund cities that don't play his anti-immigrant game

Washington Post - District officials warned that the nation’s capital could lose millions — or even billions — in federal assistance annually after President Trump signed a vaguely worded order to crack down on communities that resist the deportation of illegal immigrants.

Trump directed Homeland Security to examine ways to limit “federal funds, except as mandated by law” to sanctuary cities — wording that puzzled elected officials and municipal attorneys across the country.

Budget officials in the District said the use of the word “funds” could include a wide range of federal assistance to the city, including even $2.5 billion in annual Medicaid contributions — or roughly 20 percent of the city’s total annual spending. D.C. is a sanctuary city.

During a news conference Wednesday night, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said the District would remain a sanctuary city, even as she said the impact to the city remained entirely unclear.

“Our city and our values did not change on Election Day,” Bowser said. “Being a sanctuary city means we are not an agent of the federal government.... It means that our police can focus on serving D.C. residents — protecting and serving them — no matter their immigration status.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel vowed not to bend.

“We’re going to stay a sanctuary city,” Emanuel told reporters Wednesday. “We welcome people, 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 San Francisco, Mayor Ed Lee expressed a mix of defiance and confusion about the specific threat his city faced.

“We receive about $1 billion in federal moneys,” Lee told reporters. “But I’m not sure at all, and neither is the city attorney, about the language they used and what’s under review at this time.”

Slate - States and cities are confident they’re in the right. “Cutting off funds for cities that refuse destructive deportations is unconstitutional,” Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles representative and leader of the California Senate, said on Twitter. “See you in court.”

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman also shot back. “Local governments seeking to protect their immigration communities from federal overreach have every right to do so,” he said in a statement. He vowed to fight the administration’s order.

Politico - [NYC Mayor] De Blasio argued the executive order was "written in a very vague fashion," and is "susceptible to legal challenges," which the city is prepared to make.

The mayor said that if and when the order is implemented, the city will sue to prevent it. "The minute any specific action to withhold funding were to occur, that’s when Zach Carter is in court the next hour," de Blasio said, referring to the city's corporation counsel, who stood at his side.

De Blasio said he believed the executive order was vague but narrowly written, and would only apply to funding from the federal Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security, because of a Supreme Court precedent set in 2012's NFIB vs. Sebelius case.

But a line in the order appears to suggest that all federal funding to sanctuary cities might be at stake.

“The Director of the Office of Management and Budget is directed to obtain and provide relevant and responsive information on all federal grant money that currently is received by any sanctuary jurisdiction,” the line reads.

The mayor on Wednesday argued that the Sebelius case, with a majority opinion from Chief Justice John Roberts, "demands narrowness," suggesting a broad cut in federal grants suggested by the OMB directive would not mesh with the law.

"That's a nice line to include, but we don't believe that conforms with the law," de Blasio said.

Carter agreed. "I believe that last line falls under the category of gesture," he said

Reason - One problem that was brought up in November after Trump's election: Law enforcement agencies and unions didn't support this mechanism of intimidating cities. It wasn't that they cared so much about the civil liberties. They were not going to support anything that prevented any sort of gravy train from rolling into their police stations. Law enforcement agencies are prime recipients of federal grants.

Trump, having run on a hard core law-and-order, stop-and-frisk, civil-rights-are-for-wusses campaign, was not interested in angering these guys. So his executive order today explicitly exempts grants "deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes."

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