President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that would strip federal grants from jurisdictions whose local law enforcement provide limited cooperation with federal immigration authorities, also known as "sanctuary cities."
On Jan. 25, Trump signed an order titled "Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States." The order mandates that federal agencies withhold grants from cities and states that do not fully cooperate with immigration agents, The Atlantic reports.
The executive order states that sanctuary cities "are not eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary. ... These jurisdictions have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic."
White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that the Trump administration was intent on cracking down on jurisdictions that offer protections for undocumented immigrants.
"We're going to strip federal grant money from the sanctuary states and cities that harbor illegal immigrants," Spicer said. "The American people are no longer going to have to be forced to subsidize this disregard for our laws."
In January 2016, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) estimated that 165 U.S. jurisdictions have policies that limit local law enforcement cooperation with federal agents. Immigration authorities are able to identify undocumented immigrants when state or local law enforcement arrest them for unrelated crimes, but jurisdictions with sanctuary policies either do not report them to agents or decline to turn them over for deportation.
It is unclear which federal grants would be withheld from sanctuary cities. Criminology professor Laurie Robinson of George Mason University believes that Trump's executive order will result in the Department of Justice cutting off these jurisdictions' "drug programs, domestic violence grants, violence against women grants."
Some federal grants cannot be withheld by the executive branch but are instead designated by Congress.
"Unless Congress were to change something, the executive branch cannot really decide on its own to cut off a grant that is by statute designated to go to a local jurisdiction," Robinson told USA Today.
Following Trump's signing of the executive order, Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago held a news conference to assert that his city would continue to enforce sanctuary policies.
"We're gonna stay a sanctuary city," Emanuel said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "There is no stranger among us. We welcome people, whether you're from Poland or Pakistan, whether you're from Ireland or India or Israel and whether you're from Mexico or Moldova ... you are welcome in Chicago as you pursue the American Dream."