Even as President Elect Donald Trump prepares to “Make America Great Again,” trouble is brewing between the new administration and some major cities across the nation. Two of the most vocal are Chicago and Los Angeles both democrat strongholds for decades and both are self-designated “Sanctuary Cities” for illegals.
The problem is that Mr. Trump was given a mandate from American voters to secure the border and rid the country of illegal aliens. Even among those that did not support his election, that issue was ranked highest among concerns that citizens held for the future.
But the two cities have already drawn a line in the sand, with city officials stating publicly that they would not deport illegals and that they would remain sanctuary cities despite any effort by the government to make them do otherwise. Now they face a new administration lead by Trump that will be pushing the issue early on.
And yes, President Trump will have broad power to crack down on immigration thanks to Republican control of both the House and the Senate. In addition, one of Mr. Trump’s first jobs will be to appoint another Justice to the Supreme Court. That action will restore the highest court to a full bench, and should once again swing the courts view to the Conservative side of the line giving the Republican President firm control over the three branches of government.
In addition, President Obama has set a dangerous precedent over the last eight years of ruling with his “pen and phone,” issuing numerous regulations and federal requirements in the form of Executive Orders that Mr. Trump has promised to absolve upon entering office.
President-elect Donald Trump said he plans to deport about two to three million undocumented immigrants, speaking in a pre-taped interview that that aired on the television show “60 Minutes” this past Sunday night. As for securing the southern border, Mr. Trump promised action on that would be taken in the first 100 days of his administration.
Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor and former Obama administration official Rahm Emanuel is challenging Mr. Trumps planned course of action by reaffirming Chicago’s commitment as a so-called “Sanctuary City.” “To be clear about what Chicago is, it always will be a sanctuary city,” the mayor said Monday.
Emanuel sought to reassure those worried about Trump’s interview on “60 Minutes,” in which he said he plans to immediately deport or incarcerate up to 3 million undocumented immigrants who have criminal records. “What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, where a lot of these people, probably 2 million, it could be even 3 million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate,” Trump said in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl. “But we’re getting them out of our country, they’re here illegally.” Trump also has promised to block federal funding for sanctuary cities like Chicago.
But Hispanic Congressman Luis Gutierrez said if Trump revokes President Obama’s executive order shielding more than a million children of undocumented immigrants from deportation, the Trump would be declaring war on the illegal immigrant community, something that in this reporters opinion needs to be done and done sooner rather than later.
Meanwhile, across the nation, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck told an assembled group that he has no plans to change the LAPD’s stance on enforcement of immigration laws on illegals, despite President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to toughen federal immigration.
For decades, the LAPD has refused to actively enforce federal immigration laws and has distanced itself from federal immigration policies. The LAPD prohibits officers from initiating contact with someone solely to determine whether they are in the country illegally. That decision was mandated by a special order signed by then-chief Daryl Gates in 1979. But Beck’s has gone even further during his tenure as chief. At his direction, the department stopped turning over people arrested for low-level crimes to federal agents for deportation and moved away from honoring federal requests to detain inmates who might be deportable after serving their jail terms. On Monday, Beck said he planned to maintain the long-standing separation. “I don’t intend on doing anything different,” he said. “We are not going to engage in law enforcement activities solely based on somebody’s immigration status. We are not going to work in conjunction with Homeland Security on deportation efforts. That is not our job, nor will I make it our job.”
These actions could, under a Trump administration could lead to Federal arrest warrants being issued for the Police Chief and others in is department for failing to uphold the laws of the nation. But it is more likely that any action on the part of the Federal government would take the form of a loss of federal funds to the cities in question.
On Friday at a meeting with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, The city’s Mayor, Eric Garcetti, said the city would question Trump’s decisions on immigration. It is believed that more than 10% of the estimated 11 million Illegals currently in the country live in Los Angeles County, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
Garcetti said “If the first day, as president, we see something that is hostile to our people, hostile to our city, bad for our economy, bad for our security, we will speak up, speak out, act up and act out.” He went on to say that the LAPD would continue to enforce Special Order 40, the Gates-signed directive that bars officers from contacting someone solely to determine their immigration status.
But Capt. Jeff Scroggin, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, said they are taking a different approach. It is too soon to say how sheriff’s officials would react to any changes required by the Trump administration. Especially since those changes would more than likely be connected to receiving more federal funds, something that neither Chicago, L.A. nor the Sheriff’s Department would be able to fulfill their duties without.
Still, until Mr. Trump takes office and we see where the rules are going to be at, he said, sheriff’s deputies who patrol the county will continue their longstanding practice of treating all residents the same, regardless of background. “We just want people to come forward so we have a better community. It doesn’t matter whether they’re an immigrant or going through the process of citizenship,” Scroggin said. “Whatever it is, we want to hear from them. We don’t want them to not cooperate. It’s important to keep the community safe. We never ask about immigration status.”
Despite their high Morals and Ideals, the whole issue is likely to come down to one of money and a desire to enforce the laws of the United States. Frankly, it will be a case of wills over reality, and it looks like President Trump will hold most of the cards in that game. Legal authorities say that he will be able to follow through on many of his pledges even without help from Congress. Stephen Yale-Loehr, a professor at Cornell Law School and author of a 21-volume treatise, Immigration Law and Procedure said, “Generally speaking, any president has wide discretion when it comes to enforcing our immigration laws because immigration touches on national sovereignty.”
The easiest change Mr. Trump can make is redirecting the Department of Homeland Security to ramp up deportations, especially those with criminal records and gang affiliations. In Sundays interview on ‘ 60 Minutes, Trump said he plans to immediately deport 2 million to 3 million undocumented immigrants. Trump said he would emphasize criminals before deciding about families illegally in the country.
Mr. Trump would need congressional approval to hire more Border Patrol agents, but following an election where Republicans lost only 6 seats proving that the new president had very long coattails, it is hard to imagine that he could not get that support. In addition, Trump doesn’t need any new money to change the focus of the immigration agents who are already in place, said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, an immigrant advocacy group. “If the Department of Homeland Security secretary green-lights, simply in tone, the ramping up of enforcement actions, that is a system that can wreak havoc very, very quickly,” Noorani said.
In short, the first 100 days of this President are going to be a time of tough decisions on the parts of many state and local government officials. They are going to have to return to the days of obeying the laws of the land or they could face total collapse of their city and state budgets, and even jail time for failure to comply with existing laws of our country. In the words of legendary Radio host Paul Harvey, “Stand by for NEWS,” cause things are about to get really interesting.
The L A Times, CBS News and USA Today contributed to this report.
©2016 R. L. Grimes, All Rights Reserved.