By Joe Guzzardi
February 6, 2017
Through their defiance, mayors who govern the nation’s sanctuary cities are gambling on a long shot dice roll. At stake, according to American Transparency (OpenTheBooks.com), is nearly $27 billion in federal funds. America has more than 300 jurisdictions that have proclaimed sanctuary status. Among those 300-plus are 106 cities with the balance made up of states and counties.
President Donald Trump has ordered federal monies withheld unless those cities cooperate with immigration officials. Funding from the government to municipalities goes via Department of Justice grants to local law enforcement and through direct payments to assist with housing, education and community development.
Logically, major cities like Washington, D.C. and Chicago have the most to lose. Illogically, their mayors are among the most vocal in their sanctuary support. On a per capita basis, Washington, D.C. received the highest amount of federal funding: $12,912 per family of four for a $2.09 billion total. Chicago received the second highest per capita federal funding: $7,768 per family of four, or $5.3 billion total.
Open the Books Chief Executive Officer Adam Andrzejewski, who claims he specializes in exposing the everyday greed of national, state and local politics, equated mayoral defense of sanctuary status to a “defiance tax” that could cost every man, woman and child who resides in a sanctuary $500.
Nevertheless, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser insists that her district will remain a sanctuary. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has maintained in numerous public statements that Chicago will “always” provide sanctuary. With their high crime rates, widespread homelessness and extreme poverty, neither Washington nor Chicago can afford to lose one thin dime of grant money.
Bowser, Emanuel and dozens of other mayors are proceeding as though they’re unaware that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch already advised sanctuaries, including Chicago, that they must comply with federal law or risk losing tens of millions of dollars they received in fiscal 2016. Among other sanctuaries are New York City; Clark County, Nev.; Orleans Parish, La.; Philadelphia; Cook County, Ill., and the states of California and Connecticut.
The federal government banned sanctuary cities more than 20 years ago in the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. But Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama never enforced the law, and sanctuaries sprang up across America.
Today, however, at-risk citizens insist on safety and security. In 2015, Rasmussen polling found that 58 percent of likely voters supported cutting off funds to sanctuaries. By 2016, similar polling showed an increase in anti-sanctuary sentiment to 76 percent. Even liberal California objects. UC Berkeley’s Institute of Government Studies, of all places, found in its 2015 polling of state residents that sanctuary city opposition crossed the political spectrum, and included 73 percent of Democrats, 82 percent of Republicans and 71 percent of independents.
One sanctuary Lynch identified, Miami-Dade, recently abandoned its position when Mayor Carlos Gimenez ordered federal jails to comply with federal detention requests. Miami-Dade County is due to receive $355 million from the federal government this fiscal year. Other cities are certain to follow Gimenez’s prudent example.
The law and American sentiment back Trump. The mayors are shooting craps with money that should rightfully go to their constituents to help them live better, safer lives. Not only are the mayors violating federal law, they’re cravenly abandoning the voters who elected them.
A Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow, Joe can be contacted at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.