Burning Refuge: Why Cutting Funding For Sanctuary Cities Only Makes Things Worse
March 27, 2017 - After months of promises from the Trump administration and a still yet-to-be-enacted executive order, Attorney General Jeff Sessions released a formal threat against large cities (such as Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago) that have barred most law enforcement in the area from routinely checking immigration status for individuals during traffic stops and arrests. These cities, often called “sanctuary cities” by most media outlets, refuse to lock up or deport undocumented immigrants without warrant…or at least they claim to.
What most Trump supporters and cabinet members refuse to acknowledge is the overwhelming truth that cutting funding for these areas does not directly defer undocumented immigrants from settling there. In most cases, the proposed budget cuts harm education, transportation, and development for the poorest areas of affected cities rather than increasing defense against truly dangerous criminals. Additionally, as many Republican leaders have already proposed, Trump and Sessions have displayed support for morphing law and customs/immigration enforcement (I.C.E.) into a singular system, causing further distrust between immigrant-heavy communities and law enforcement.
On September 6th, 2017, with the formal announcement to end DACA released just a day before, the House voted to strip funding for any city that blocks “any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual” in the words of representative Jason Smith (R-MO).With this change, the ability for anyone appearing of non-white descent to be targeted by immigration officials increases tremendously, regardless of if they've committed any crimes. ‘La migra’, common slang for I.C.E. in many Latinx communities, is already thought to be one of the most cruel agencies, often deporting nonviolent undocumented workers and pulling them from their families rather than investigating dangerous criminals and traffickers that pose real threats to society.
In the eyes of many, Democrats and Independents alike, the proposed cuts are nothing but lucrative blackmail. As Smith elaborated further, “funds in Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funds [will] only go to cities and states that uphold federal law”. If passed through the Senate, the economic disruption for so many of these "sanctuary cities" would be beyond measure. Money will soon be funneled out of these communities, most of which already severely underfunded when it comes to public services such as schools and parks, but those who agree with Trump’s policies will begin to see negative effects as well. With growing tensions between immigrants and law enforcement as well as citizens and undocumented immigrants, Republicans and the Trump administration will simply raise tensions within the United States’ most diverse communities. Ultimately, cutting funding for sanctuary cities will not succeed in decreasing crime or the number of undocumented immigrants in this nation, but will succeed in increasing division, distrust, and additional racially-charged violence in our most celebrated metropolitan areas.