Sanctuary cities and counties in California and across the nation are struggling with confusion and disarray as they deal with anti-sanctuary measures undertaken by the Trump administration. There are approximately 200 sanctuary jurisdictions in the nation. They, and some jurisdictions that do not have sanctuary policies, risk losing federal funding if they don’t comply with administration orders on cooperation between local law enforcement and immigrantion authorities.
There is no single definition of what constitutes a sanctuary jurisdiction, and that’s part of the problem. The policies have been around for decades, and typically restrict immigrantion enforcement activities by local law enforcement. For example, many prohibit police from asking people who call police whether they are lawful residents of the U.S. Others specifically ban any local resources from being used for immigrantion enforcement, including complying with federal immigrantion holds.
As we’ve discussed before on this blog, sanctuary policies are often meant to ensure that all residents feel comfortable calling and cooperating with the police. By March of this year, anti-immigrant rhetoric by President Trump was already noticeably reducing 911 calls by Latinos in the LA area.
Trump has made revoking federal grants from sanctuary jurisdictions a top priority, claiming that they provide a haven for criminals, according to the Associated Press.
Sanctuary jurisdictions across the country are individually deciding how to respond to Trump administration anti-sanctuary policies. Some have changed their policies to comply. Others, such as Stockton and San Bernardino, have been told they do not qualify for federal public safety grants because they refuse to allow immigrantion authorities access to their jails and don’t notify them when immigrant inmates are released. Some cities have been told they don’t qualify even though they do not have sanctuary policies, or their policies don’t relate to the Trump orders
At least six jurisdictions have filed suit against the administration, claiming that it’s unconstitutional to deny sanctuary areas federal money that Congress hadn’t already conditioned upon immigrantion enforcement cooperation.
Most disturbing to the 200 sanctuary jurisdictions, however, appears to be the lack of clarity. Not knowing whether they qualify for promised federal grants puts a serious hitch in the budgeting process. Moreover, many jurisdictions are unclear on whether their own policies violate Trump’s orders.