Sanctuary Cities Stand to Lose Billions in Federal Funding
According to an analysis of federal grants performed by Reuters, the 10 largest cities in America are in danger of losing up to $2.27 billion in funds if they do not comply with President Donald Trump’s policies on illegal immigration.
The president signed an executive order this week directing the Department of Homeland Security to look at the money flowing to the nation’s sanctuary cities and report on any funding streams that could be cut off in the event of non-compliance.
“The American people are no longer going to have to be forced to subsidize this disregard for our laws,” said White House press secretary Sean Spicer.
Reuters analyzed federal grant records to tally the estimated federal funding at risk among the 10 largest cities which totaled an estimated $2.27 billion.
The total amount remains unclear, as federal money can be filtered through state governments or granted directly to social-service organizations or other groups.
The numbers do not include federal money for law enforcement, which was excluded in the executive order, and programs like Medicaid, which are administered by state governments.
Though details remain vague, the order could jeopardize billions of dollars in housing, health, education and other types of federal aid.
Several cities in the top 10 – Boston and Los Angeles among them – have not officially proclaimed themselves “sanctuaries” for illegal immigrants. Even so, they have policies that prevent local officials from fully cooperating with federal immigration authorities.
Boston, for instance, has a directive in place that forbids police from detaining people based on their citizenship status without a criminal warrant. Depending on how forcefully the Trump administration pushes the issue, the city could be in danger of losing more than $65 million in federal funds.
Most cities with sanctuary policies are about as blue as America gets, and they are predisposed to opposing the Trump administration. City officials in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and elsewhere have already vowed to stand by their resident aliens and fight Trump in court if he strips their cities of federal grant money.
Some analysts say that, legally, Trump can only cut off funds if the original statute providing the funds came with a compliance clause. In other words, unless the funds are already tied to an agreement like, “You get this money only if you comply with ICE agents,” Trump is out of luck. Whether this is true or not, we may soon find out.
Even if it is, though, Trump has a number of other tools at his disposal, including what it perhaps his most powerful weapon: The presidential bully pulpit. The administration has already suggested publishing an ongoing list of crimes committed by illegal immigrants along with the cities that protect them. Once public opinion in these cities turns, Trump may not even have to threaten funding to gain compliance.