Fault Lines
18 October 2017

Trump Signed An Order On Sanctuary Cities, But Don’t Panic

January 26, 2017 (Fault Lines) — Yesterday, President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order regarding, among many other things, “sanctuary cities.” Titled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” (why not just “Inside” instead of “in the Interior of”?), it seeks to “direct executive departments and agencies to employ all lawful means to enforce the immigration laws of the United States,” regardless of whether localities want to help the feds round up “illegals” or choose to provide a “sanctuary” for them.

I am strict when it comes to adorning the “s” word with quotation marks because there’s nothing the non-feds can do to prevent the enforcement of the Supreme Law of the land. If it wasn’t for the insurmountable logistical difficulties associated with apprehending and removing all many of those without legal status, there’s nothing cities, people, or even campuses can do to stop the enforcement of the federal law without violating it.

Now, about Trump’s executive order. Section 9 of the order, which addresses those miscreant locals, reads as follows:

Sec. 9.  Sanctuary Jurisdictions.  It is the policy of the executive branch to ensure, to the fullest extent of the law, that a State, or a political subdivision of a State, shall comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373.

(a)  In furtherance of this policy, the Attorney General and the Secretary, in their discretion and to the extent consistent with law, shall ensure that jurisdictions that willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373 (sanctuary jurisdictions) are not eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary.  The Secretary has the authority to designate, in his discretion and to the extent consistent with law, a jurisdiction as a sanctuary jurisdiction.  The Attorney General shall take appropriate enforcement action against any entity that violates 8 U.S.C. 1373, or which has in effect a statute, policy, or practice that prevents or hinders the enforcement of Federal law.

(b)  To better inform the public regarding the public safety threats associated with sanctuary jurisdictions, the Secretary shall utilize the Declined Detainer Outcome Report or its equivalent and, on a weekly basis, make public a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens and any jurisdiction that ignored or otherwise failed to honor any detainers with respect to such aliens.

(c)  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. (Emphasis added.)

8 U.S.C. 1373 deals with communications between local governments and immigration authorities, and it forbids restricting or prohibiting any entity from “sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.” This statute was in the books long before the order, as was the proscription against hindering the enforcement of federal law.  It’s more of meet-the-new-boss-same-as-the-old-boss the same. So in a sense, Trump and his good hombres are saying, “This time, we really mean it.” But, what’s important is how this applies on the ground, and not how it looks from the cheap seats.

See what it doesn’t say? It doesn’t require anyone to report anything about people without papers. You can’t prevent someone from communicating with immigration authorities, but very few cities ever did that, and when they did it was illegal then as it is now. The locals should rejoice in the fact that there’s nothing in the order that requires them to snitch out “illegals,” or more importantly, nothing that alters the immigrant-friendly logistical landscape.

Then there’s the public weekly “comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens” and of (gasp!) the jurisdictions that failed to honor detainers. They’re going to make a list of the bad things committed by bad hombres but without naming nombres, and of the cities that choose not to hold people in their county jails until ICE decided to get off its ass. Plus, got a beef with sanctuary cities? Now you’ll have a list of places you can boycott.

Yes, the provision that gives the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security the discretion to designate any jurisdiction as a sanctuary one. It’s capricious, and the consequence is the deprivation of federal aid, except “for law enforcement purposes.” Ah, can’t cut off funding for those consent decrees or the DOJ’s reports on those colossal local screw ups, lest the vaunted feds be prevented from giving those puny locals another slap on the wrist.

Plus, the order does not say which types of federal aid will be cut off and for how long. It could run in the billions, but it’s too early to tell, and it would be irresponsible to hit the panic button so early in the game. Au contraire, several mayors have already made it crystal clear that they’ll take whatever fiscal hit comes their way, so long as they remain “sanctuary cities.”

The phrase “sanctuary jurisdiction” appears 7 times in the order. Doesn’t Trump know that those who provide “sanctuary” to “illegals” don’t consider that term a pejorative? It’s considered a badge of honor, a validation, however meaningless it is in reality. Your next progressive candidate for mayor could use a “sanctuary jurisdiction” designation as a selling point during the next election.  Case in point: immediately after Trump signed the order, many mayors have already vowed to “push back” against Trump and to remain a “sanctuary city.”

There’s plenty left to discuss, and more to come, about this latest order from President Trump. So stay thirsty, amigos, and watch this space.

2 Comments on this post.

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  • Jim Tyre
    26 January 2017 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    If only I got paid the big bucks that you FL contributors get, I might write at length about Section 14 of the EO. But since all I get is occasional abuse by mean ass editor, I’ll simply quote it and leave its significance as an exercise for the reader:

    Sec. 14. Privacy Act. Agencies shall, to the extent consistent with applicable law, ensure that their privacy policies exclude persons who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents from the protections of the Privacy Act regarding personally identifiable information.

    • Mario Alfredo Machado
      26 January 2017 at 1:10 pm - Reply

      As I told my Fault Lines brethren this morning, several posts can be churned out of every section of that EO. It’s an embarrassment of riches.