The U.S. Department of Justice is again threatening to withhold some crimefighting funds from Bernalillo County over what the Trump administration has called “sanctuary” policies. The DOJ contacted Bernalillo County and 22 other jurisdictions, including New York City and the states of California, Illinois and Oregon, saying they violated the law that promotes sharing immigration enforcement information with the federal government. DOJ says the statute requires cooperation as a condition for receiving grants through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program. Wednesday, DOJ threatened to subpoena officials who do not comply with their documents request. The threat is the latest in the fight between the federal government and local jurisdictions they deem as “sanctuary.” There is no formal definition of a so-called “sanctuary” city or county, though the Trump administration generally uses it to refer to local jurisdictions that do not fully comply with federal requests to aid enforcement of immigration law.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Monday morning sent a clear message to members of Houston’s immigrant community who might fear seeking help during Hurricane Harvey because of their legal status. “There is absolutely no reason why anyone should not call [for help]. And I and others will be the first ones to stand up with you,” Turner, an attorney, said to reporters. “If someone comes and they require help and then for some reason [someone] tries to deport them, I will represent them myself.”
Turner responded directly to a question about Senate Bill 4, the state’s immigration-enforcement law that seeks to outlaw “sanctuary” jurisdictions. Gov. Greg Abbott signed the law in May and it is scheduled to go into effect Friday.
The city of Santa Fe joined 33 other cities and counties in a lawsuit against the federal government over President Donald Trump’s executive order on sanctuary cities. Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales, a Democrat, has been an outspoken opponent of Trump’s war on sanctuary cities. Trump promised to halt federal funding to the areas, arguing that by not aiding federal authorities in enforcing immigration laws, the communities are protecting criminals. The amicus brief in the lawsuit brought by Santa Clara County in California says Trump’s executive order violates the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, violates the Constitution’s Due Process Clause and does not provide procedural due process. The brief asks for a nationwide injunction.
The city of Santa Fe hasn’t made a decision on whether or not to sue the federal government over its sanctuary city status, but it is an option on the table. This comes after President Donald Trump signed an executive order to withhold federal funding from “sanctuary jurisdictions.”
“We are working on our legal strategy to clarify our standing, marshal our strongest possible arguments, and consider ways to address the executive order on so-called Sanctuary Cities,” city spokesman Matt Ross said in a statement. “One of those avenues may very well be a lawsuit, so it’s certainly on the table, but we’re not there yet.”
The city of San Francisco sued the federal government last week over Trump’s executive order. Ross noted that City Attorney Kelly Brennan brought up the issue at a city council meeting Wednesday night. “There was a good discussion and general agreement to get that process started, to have conversations with the legal community in Santa Fe and with advocates like the ACLU, and then to report back to the Council for a final decision,” Ross said.
Less than a week after Donald Trump won the election for president of the United States, the mayor of New Mexico’s capital city is not backing down from so-called “sanctuary” status. This comes despite threats to cut federal money to such cities made by the president-elect during the campaign. “The threat is intended to divide us against each other,” Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales wrote in a statement on Twitter Monday afternoon. “It is one of the first, but it won’t be the last we see out of this administration, which based on its own words intends to persecute and attack not only immigrants but women, Muslims, people of color, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and more.”
Though there is no formal legal definition, the politically charged term “sanctuary city” typically refers to cities that limit cooperation with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency on immigration policies. Santa Fe, for example, bars the use of public resources to check for someone’s immigration status.