Sanctuary Cities Gear Up for Fight With Trump

Editorial by Mike Madrid

Most California cities have their hands full with the basics. There's public safety to worry about, parks to maintain, garbage to pick up, reliable water that must be delivered on demand and sewer treatment facilities to receive that water once it's been used. There are labor unions to manage and issues such as homelessness, housing and land use.

Then there are a dozen California cities that have strayed beyond their primary obligations and marched into global politics. These are so-called sanctuary cities -- municipalities where city councils have established policies designed to protect undocumented immigrants from harassment and arrest by federal immigration authorities.

Sanctuary cities can't stop the feds from rounding up undocumented people. But they can instruct their police departments to limit cooperation with U.S. Immigration officials when the feds start asking questions about undocumented residents.

And they can order local police officers and other municipal officials not to inquire about immigration status when they contact people on city streets or residences.

Most of California's largest cities -- Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Ana, Oakland, San Bernardino and Sacramento -- are sanctuary cities. They are joined by smaller places such as Berkeley, Salinas, Watsonville, Williams and Coachella, all united in their eagerness to enter the national debate on immigration by declaring themselves sanctuaries.

Until now, the consequences of being a sanctuary city have been largely symbolic. That will likely soon change, once Donald Trump becomes president. Trump has promised to "end" sanctuary cities, removing any federal funding from their budgets. The president-elect believes sanctuary city policies protect violent criminals.

"We will end the sanctuary cities that have resulted in so many needless deaths," he said during the campaign. "Cities that refuse to cooperate with federal authorities will not receive taxpayer dollars, and we will work with Congress to pass legislation to protect those jurisdictions that do assist federal authorities."

The confrontation has been on full display in Santa Ana, which this week passed a non-binding resolution to join the sanctuary movement. Council members are expected to strengthen their position by making the resolution a city ordinance at a future meeting.

Santa Ana currently contracts with federal officials to house about 200 immigration detainees in jail. The city is phasing out the agreement, which is worth almost $664,000 each year to Santa Ana.

Given California's overwhelming rejection of Trump on election day, the new president may have the state squarely in his sights as he seeks to make good on his promise to defund cities that promise sanctuary for undocumented immigrants.


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