The City of West Hollywood is among three dozen government jurisdictions that filed a court brief today opposing President Donald Trump’s executive order threatening to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities. The others included the City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County and Santa Monica and Santa Ana.
The brief was filed in federal court in San Francisco in support of that city’s pending lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Trump’s proposed crackdown on cities that fail to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. Another brief was filed last week by many of the same jurisdictions in a similar lawsuit filed by Santa Clara County over the same issue.
The court papers argue that pulling funding from cities would threaten public health and safety, while noting that forcing local law enforcement agencies to become arms of federal immigration agencies would lead to a loss of cooperation between immigrants and police, with victims or witness of crimes opting not to come forward out of fear of deportation.
“Today, 36 cities and counties across the nation, representing over 24 million people, joined together to stand up for the health and safety of their communities and oppose President Trump’s ill-conceived and unconstitutional executive order that would require local jurisdictions to perform federal immigration work or risk losing unrelated federal funding,” said Kelly Dermody, an attorney for the coalition of jurisdictions. “Local jurisdictions are in the best position to set these priorities and they understand that driving some residents underground in fear of any interaction with local authorities makes every resident in that community, and those adjacent, less safe.”
Trump signed an order in January threatening a crackdown on cities that fail to report arrests of people potentially subject to deportation.
“Sanctuary jurisdictions across the United States willfully violate federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States,” the order states. “These jurisdictions have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic.
“… We cannot faithfully execute the immigration laws of the United States if we exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.”
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday reinforced Trump’s stance, saying local jurisdictions seeking U.S. Department of Justice grants must first demonstrate they are not sanctuary cities.
Sessions said jurisdictions must prove they are in compliance with Section 1373 of U.S. Code Title 8, which requires notification of federal officials about the immigration status of people in local custody. The policy was issued under the Barack Obama administration in 2016, but was not enforced.
“The American people know that when cities and states refuse to help enforce immigration laws, our nation is less safe,” Sessions said.