Several towns, cities and counties around the nation are caving to President Trump's threat to pull funding, and abandoning their "sanctuary" pledges to shield illegal immigrants from federal authorities.
Dayton, Ohio, dropped a policy that restricted the city’s cooperation with immigration officials pursuing illegal immigrants arrested for misdemeanors or felony property crimes, according to the Dayton Daily News. Police Chief Richard Biehl said federal authorities will no longer be impeded by the city when pursuing illegal immigrants being held by his department.
Other communities that have dropped policies of shielding illegal immigrant suspects from Immigration and Customs Enforcement include Miami-Dade and Dayton, are Saratoga, N.Y., Finney County, Kan., and Bedford, Penn., according to The Center for Immigration Studies, which keeps a list of sanctuary communities.
“We are reviewing policy changes at a multitude of other jurisdictions as well,” said Marguerite Telford, CIS’s director of communications, who said the organization is “being inundated” by officials on its sanctuary map who want to be taken off.
The mayor of Miami-Dade County, which was considered a sanctuary community, made headlines recently when he changed a policy that called for refusing to hold arrested immigrants for immigration officials unless they committed to reimbursing the county for the cost of detention.
Telling reporters that he did not want to imperil hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding, Mayor Carlos Gimenez ordered jails to comply with federal immigration detention requests.
The changes have come on the heels of President Trump’s executive order giving the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security the power to cut federal funding to communities that are deemed sanctuaries for illegal immigrants. Trump also has authorized the DHS to publish a weekly list of sanctuary communities.
CIS, and other groups that favor strict immigration enforcement, laud Trump’s move.
“Are you really going to pick and choose what laws you’re going to enforce?” asked Telford. “If you want a change [in immigration policy], go to the legislature.”
While some communities are rethinking their sanctuary policies under the pressure of losing funding, public officials of others, particularly major cities, have vowed to defy Trump’s orders.
“We’re going to defend all of our people regardless of where they come from, regardless of their immigration status,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York at a recent press conference.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel also vowed to protect illegal immigrants, including ones suspected or convicted of crimes, from the feds.
“I want to be clear: We’re going to stay a sanctuary city," Emanuel said. "There is no stranger among us… you are welcome in Chicago as you pursue the American dream.”
The "sanctuary" term describes cities that employ a range of uncooperation with federal immigration authorities. Some refuse to hold suspects and even convicts who have completed their sentences for the feds to deport. Others refuse to furnish the feds with information on illegal immigrants who land on their radar through more benign activity.
Forbes contributor Adam Andrzejewski reported that more than 300 government jurisdictions claim to be sanctuaries, of which 106 are cities and “the rest are states, counties or other units of government.”
Supporters of sanctuary communities say that people who are here illegally but have not posed a danger to others or had trouble with police should not be turned over to immigration authorities.
Some police and town officials further argue that working with immigration officials will make people fearful of turning to them if they are the victim of a crime or have information about one.
“It’s incredibly disappointing to see cities and counties scaling back so-called "sanctuary" policies, which were largely adopted to further public safety and ensure immigrants weren’t afraid to call the police,” Grace Meng, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch, told Fox News.
Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, predicted many more communities will be dropping or dramatically modifying their sanctuary stances.
“We’re going to see more of this,” Mehlman told Fox News. “Faced with the possibility of losing federal dollars, they’ll choose to keep funding public services rather than protecting illegal aliens.”