Just hours after President Donald Trump signed a wide ranging executive order on immigration, cities and states across the country have announced plans to defy the order.
Trump signed the order this morning authorizing the construction of a border wall along the southern border with Mexico, and withholding funding from cities that refuse to denounce their sanctuary city status.
In response, city and state leaders have announced that not only do they intend to defend their sanctuary city statuses, but many of them also plan to file federal lawsuits to defend the federal funding they get for state and local programs.
California Announces Plans To Defy Trump
In his state of the state speech before both bodies of California’s legislators, Governor Jerry Brown had some fiery words for Mr. Trump. The title of the speech, which Mr. Brown wrote himself, said much about its subject: “California Is Not Turning Back, Not Now, Not Ever.” In 15 minutes Mr. Brown offered what is by now a familiar litany of resistance from California Democratic lawmakers: Pledging to fight Mr. Trump on efforts to roll back climate change laws and to crack down on immigrants.
California is home to an estimated 2.3 million of the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants. Not only does the state allow such immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, but it also offers them in-state college tuition and allows them to hold professional licenses to work as lawyers, architects and nurses. A state law passed in 2014 limits counties’ cooperation with federal officials.
At an afternoon press conference, the democratic leadership of the California Senate and General assembly announced plans not only to defy the Trump administration, but also to fast track two bills intended to thwart coordination and cooperation between state and local law enforcement, homeland security, and the federal immigration and customs enforcement.
The first of those bills, Senate Bill 54, states that local law enforcement and other agencies shall not act as immigration enforcement agents. That includes questioning people about their immigration status or sharing private information held by state agencies about their status for immigration enforcement purposes. It also prohibits giving federal immigration authorities access to people who are in state or local custody for immigration enforcement purposes. The second bill, SB 6, would create a state program that would pay for legal representation for people facing deportation.
Considering that democrats hold supermajorities in both houses of California’s legislature, the bills are sure to be pass promptly and, based on earlier statement’s he’s made, are almost guaranteed to be signed by the state’s democratic governor, Jerry Brown.
Washington State “Will Not Be Intimidated”
Washington State’s Governor, Jay Inslee said “The president this week has reminded us that people’s voices are more important than ever. Together, we will resist any effort that would violate Washington’s values, take away the opportunity for higher education or break up hard-working families.” in a statement posted on Medium.
Washington is among a number of states that allow undocumented people to obtain driver’s licenses, state tuition grants for higher education, and licensing for highly skilled career professionals.
Major City Mayors Intend To Defy Trump
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said at a press conference that “the City of Seattle will not be bullied by the Trump administration” and will take all legal remedies to block the federal government from coercing the city through the withholding of federal funds. When questioned about the possibility the city may lose federal funding, Mayor Murray said “I am willing to lose every single penny to protect [undocumented immigrants].” He said that of Seattle’s nearly $5 billion annual budget, only about $87 million comes by way of Federal grants.
New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio said “We will not deport law abiding New Yorkers. We will not tear families apart. We will not divide children from their parents. We will not take breadwinners from families with no one else,”. Of all the sanctuary cities, New York has possibly the most to lose from Trump’s directive as it receives nearly $7 billion in federal funding for local programs.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said “I am here today to say we are still a sanctuary city,” “We stand by our sanctuary city because we want everybody to feel safe and utilize the services they deserve, including education and health care. … It is my obligation to keep our city united, keep it strong … crime doesn’t know documentation. Disease doesn’t know documentation.” Of San Francisco’s $9.6 billion annual budget, the city stands to lose about $1 billion in federal funding for defying the Trump directive.
Washington D.C. During a news conference Wednesday night, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser 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.”
Philadelphia A spokeswoman for Mayor Jim Kenney says the city has no plans to change its immigration policy. “Given that today’s [executive order] was simply a directive and did not even make clear if there were any significant funding streams that the Trump administration could cut off to Philadelphia, we have no plans to change our immigration policy at this time,” Lauren Hitt said in a statement. Adding that Philadelphia has a “responsibility” to keep “undocumented human beings” safe.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said “We will continue to foster trusting relationship between law enforcement and the immigrant community, and we will not waste vital police resources on misguied federal actions,”. He went on to say “We will not be intimidated by the threat to federal funding,” he said. “We have each other’s backs. And we have the Constitution of the United States of America on our side.”
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said “We’re gonna stay a sanctuary city,”. Chicago Alderman Joe Moore said “Even if it means that our federal funding is threatened, now is the time to stand up for what is right, now is the time to stand up for our values, now is the time to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves,”. “We should not give into any demagogue who happens to somehow accidentally find his way into the White House.” It was not immediately clear how much of the cities budget depends of federal funding.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said “Splitting up families and cutting funding to any city — especially Los Angeles, where 40% of the nation’s goods enter the U.S. at our port, and more than 80 million passengers traveled through our airport last year — puts the personal safety and economic health of our entire nation at risk. It is not the way forward for the United States.”
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock was adamant after the election that Denver was “not going to do the job of the federal government” by enforcing immigration laws or reversing policies that limit cooperation with immigration officials.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Council Member Greg Casar said they would fight to protect undocumented residents from Donald Trump’s immigration policies. At the rally shortly after the election, Casar vowed he will fight to ensure that no Austin city employee or police officer will do anything to tear immigrant families apart. “We are here as a city to take care of one another,” he said. “This is the beginning of the new organized resistance against Trump.”
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton says his city will fight the federal government’s attempt “to turn the Phoenix Police Department into a mass deportation force.”
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said “We will not be complicit in the deportation of our neighbors. Under my leadership as Mayor, the City of Portland will remain a welcoming, safe place for all people regardless of immigration status.” in a statement released this afternoon. “This approach is consistent with the Oregon state law and the 4th and 10th Amendments of the United States Constitution. We will not compromise our values as a city or as Americans and will resist these policies.”
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said Wednesday that “They will be safe to [call police] and their immigration status will not be questioned,” “That will stand in the city of Minneapolis as long as I am mayor.”
Smaller Municipalities Unite Against Trump
States and Major metropolitan cities were not the only ones to weigh in on the subject. The mayors of many smaller sanctuary cities gave rather concise denunciations as well.
Lawrence, MA “Shame on him,” Mayor Daniel Rivera said in a statement. “There’s so many other things to worry about. Nobody in a red state is going to get a job or have their life become better because he victimizes these immigrants.”
Northhampton, MA Mayor David Narkewicz told The Boston Globe he felt stripping funding from sanctuary cities would be easier said than done and that he believes Trump will find that it is not easy to strip cities and towns of federal funding, since much of it is tied to civil-rights lawsuits and federal laws.
Aurora, CO Police Chief Nick Metz said “Officers will not enforce, investigate or detain individuals based on their immigration status,” in a statement late last year. “Our policy is not based on politics or personal philosophy. It is based on public safety. It is our goal to ensure that all individuals within Aurora feel safe in reporting emergencies and working closely with the APD to ensure our city remains a safe place for all.”
Relying on Trusted Ally: The U.S. Constitution
Many of the city and state leaders cited above have pointed the 10th amendment of the United States Constitution which states “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
The 10th Amendment has been widely construed by both liberals and conservatives throughout history to defend the principle of federalism, which strictly supports the entire plan of the original Constitution for the United States of America, by stating that the federal government possesses only those powers delegated to it by the United States Constitution. All remaining powers are reserved for the states or the people.
In the modern era, the Supreme Court has declared laws unconstitutional only in instances where the federal government compels the states to enforce federal statutes – as is the case here.
In 1992, in New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144 (1992), for only the second time in 55 years, the Supreme Court invalidated a portion of a federal law for violating the Tenth Amendment. The case challenged a portion of the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Amendments Act of 1985. The act provided three incentives for states to comply with statutory obligations to provide for the disposal of low-level radioactive waste. The first two incentives were monetary. The third, which was challenged in the case, obliged states to take title to any waste within their borders that was not disposed of prior to January 1, 1996, and made each state liable for all damages directly related to the waste. The Court, in a 6–3 decision, ruled that the imposition of that obligation on the states violated the Tenth Amendment. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote that the federal government can encourage the states to adopt certain regulations through the spending power (e.g. by attaching conditions to the receipt of federal funds, see South Dakota v. Dole, 483 U.S. 203 (1987), or through the commerce power (by directly pre-empting state law). However, Congress cannot directly compel states to enforce federal regulations.
In 1998, the Court again ruled in Printz v. United States that the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act violated the Tenth Amendment. The act required state and local law enforcement officials to conduct background checks on people attempting to purchase handguns. Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, applied New York v. United States to show that the law violated the Tenth Amendment. Since the act “forced participation of the State’s executive in the actual administration of a federal program”, it was unconstitutional.
last case to reach the court in 2012, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the Court, held that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly referred to as the ACA or Obamacare) improperly coerced the States to expand Medicaid.
This last case is key to the sanctuary city fight, because Justice Roberts wrote for the court that part of the Affordable Care Act was coercive because it conditioned continued federal funding on states complying with the mandate to expand medicaid for everyone who falls below 133% of the poverty line, thus putting the law in direct conflict with the 10th Amendment.
Below is a copy of the executive order President Donald Trump signed today.