Po­lice union wary of Trump plan for ‘sanc­tu­ary cities’

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY AN­DREA NO­BLE

The country’s largest po­lice union, which en­dorsed Don­ald Trump for pres­i­dent, is wary of his stance on a key cam­paign is­sue: his prom­ise to with­hold funds from “sanc­tu­ary cities.”

As part of his first 100-days ac­tion plan, Mr. Trump has pledged to block all fed­eral fund­ing to ju­ris­dic­tions that shield il­le­gal im­mi­grants.

But in re­cent days, may­ors and po­lice chiefs in ma­jor cities across the country have pledged to stand be­hind their sanc­tu­ary city poli­cies in de­fi­ance of Mr. Trump’s plans.

The stance cre­ates a co­nun­drum for the Na­tional Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Po­lice, which doesn’t sup­port the sanc­tu­ary city con­cept but wor­ries that pub­lic safety could be harmed if funds for law en­force­ment ini­tia­tives are with­held from cities.

“We do not sup­port the with­hold­ing of pub­lic safety funds as a ham­mer,” said FOP Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor James Pasco.

The FOP, which has more than 330,000 mem­bers, has been sup­port­ive of the Repub­li­can pres­i­dent-elect and hopes that Mr. Trump will usher in a new era of re­spect and sup­port for law en­force­ment. But Mr. Pasco said that with­hold­ing fed­eral funds to lo­cal gov­ern­ments and their law en­force­ment agen­cies ul­ti­mately would en­dan­ger res­i­dents.

“You can’t hold peo­ple’s safety over their heads to get them to come to your point of view,” Mr. Pasco said.

To com­pel cities to re-eval­u­ate their sanc­tu­ary sta­tus, “some other levers are go­ing to have to be pulled,” the po­lice union leader said.

It’s not en­tirely clear which ju­ris­dic­tions could be at risk for los­ing fed­eral funds un­der Mr. Trump’s plan, as there is no le­gal def­i­ni­tion for “sanc­tu­ary city.” The term gen­er­ally refers to ju­ris­dic­tions that do not co­op­er­ate with U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment, for ex­am­ple, by not no­ti­fy­ing im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials when an un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grant is go­ing to be re­leased from cus­tody. But it also can en­com­pass cities that ban po­lice from in­quir­ing about a per­son’s im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus dur­ing in­ter­ac­tions.

The Cen­ter for Im­mi­gra­tion Stud­ies es­ti­mates there are more than 300 cities that refuse to com­ply with ICE agents.

How much money or which fed­eral grants city gov­ern­ments could risk los­ing by con­tin­u­ing to up­hold poli­cies that shield il­le­gal im­mi­grants is also un­clear.

State and lo­cal gov­ern­ments re­ceived about $667 bil­lion in fed­eral funds in fis­cal 2016, with about half that amount go­ing to­ward Med­i­caid. Fund­ing for dis­cre­tionary grant pro­grams — in­clud­ing those that ex­pand the ca­pac­ity of drug ad­dic­tion treat­ment cen­ters or help pay for po­lice de­part­ments to ob­tain body cam­eras — to­tals about $200 bil­lion.

New York City, where Mayor Bill de Bla­sio promised to pro­tect im­mi­grant fam­i­lies and re­sist Mr. Trump’s plan, is slated to re­ceive $7.7 bil­lion in fed­eral grants dur­ing fis­cal 2017, ac­cord­ing to Bloomberg News. Mean­while, Santa Fe, New Mex­ico, could lose about $6 mil­lion in fed­eral funds, or about 2 per­cent of its an­nual bud­get.

“The loss of fed­eral funds would be cer­tainly dev­as­tat­ing, but we’re not go­ing to com­pro­mise our val­ues. We’ll have to find our way through it, and we will,” Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gon­za­les told CNN.

A new at­tor­ney gen­eral will play a role in de­cid­ing how to deal with sanc­tu­ary cities. Mr. Trump an­nounced last week the nom­i­na­tion of Sen. Jeff Ses­sions, the Alabama Repub­li­can who is on the record call­ing for the pros­e­cu­tion of sanc­tu­ary cities that pro­tect il­le­gal im­mi­grants.

As at­tor­ney gen­eral, Mr. Ses­sions will have the power to strip some fed­eral fund­ing from sanc­tu­ary cities thanks to rul­ings this year by the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s in­spec­tor gen­eral, who said fed­eral law re­quires lo­cal­i­ties to co­op­er­ate with im­mi­gra­tion agents, who pro­vided an ini­tial list of a hand­ful of the worst of­fend­ers.

The IG report ex­am­ined 10 ju­ris­dic­tions that have poli­cies bar­ring jails and po­lice from co­op­er­at­ing with ICE and found they re­ceived more than $362 mil­lion in fed­eral grants through the Of­fice of Jus­tice Pro­grams and Of­fice on Vi­o­lence Against Women.

While some big-city po­lice chiefs have crit­i­cized Mr. Trump’s pro­posed crack­down, some law en­force­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions say it ul­ti­mately will ben­e­fit the safety of civil­ians and of­fi­cers.

Bill John­son, pres­i­dent of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Po­lice Or­ga­ni­za­tions, said he thinks the plan to with­hold fed­eral fund­ing from cities that op­pose fed­eral laws “makes sense.”

He said lo­cal po­lice agen­cies are more likely to use fed­eral grants for train­ing or pol­icy ini­tia­tives rather than to pay for staff, and there­fore he doesn’t think pa­trols or in­ves­ti­ga­tions would be af­fected. Send­ing the mes­sage that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion will not tol­er­ate il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion is more likely to ben­e­fit pub­lic safety, Mr. John­son said.

“Sanc­tu­ary cities tend to be more dan­ger­ous for po­lice work, be­cause at some level the lo­cal gov­ern­ment is say­ing it is OK to break the law,” Mr. John­son said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.