Seattle filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the Trump administration’s efforts to punish so-called sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with federal ICE agents on immigration issues. Attorney General Jeff Sessions signaled on Monday that up to 4 billion dollars of grants and aid for local communities could be held up if cities choose not to cooperate with ICE and DHS agents.
San Francisco filed a similar lawsuit recently as well.
Central to the complaint is the role that local law enforcement officers play in their communities. If immigrants (legal or illegal) see local police as immigration officers – or extensions of ICE – they will be far less likely to cooperate with local police or call when support is needed. This lack of cooperation leads to less information being shared and ultimately to communities that are less safe. In the end, a policy that the Trump administration designed to make everyone safer has the unintended consequence of shielding illegal activities and hamstringing local police officers as they work with community members.
A statement issued by the International Association of Chiefs of Police on Monday calls on the administration to avoid penalizing sanctuary cities: “The IACP has and always will strongly oppose the use of sanctions to drive policy; this was true with prior Administrations and remains true with the current Administration. The funds provided through the Department of Justice support a wide array of crime fighting, crime prevention and public health initiatives. Penalizing communities by withholding assistance funding to law enforcement agencies and other critical programs is counter-productive to our shared mission of reducing violent crime and keeping our communities safe.”
“We are not breaking any laws and we are prioritizing safety,” argued Seattle’s Mayor Ed Murray. The lawsuit claims that under the 10th amendment of the Constitution the executive order is unconstitutional, according to George Mason University law professor Ilya Somin, because it forces “dissenting cities and states to obey presidential dictates, even without authorization from Congress.”
Despite his oath of office (which is to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution) and his campaign promises to work with the Congress (notably to improve healthcare and make it more affordable), President Trump’s efforts in his first 100 days are being hampered by his inadequate understanding of the constitution and his inability to build winning coalitions.