LOS ANGELES — Here in Los Angeles, where nearly half of the city’s residents are Latino, Mayor Eric Garcetti has vowed to do everything he can to fight widespread deportations of unauthorized immigrants.
In New York, with a large and diverse Latino population, Mayor Bill de Blasio has pledged not to cooperate with immigration agents. And Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago has declared that it “will always be a sanctuary city.”
Across the nation, officials in sanctuary cities are gearing up to oppose President-elect Donald Trump if he follows through on a campaign promise to deport millions of immigrants in the country illegally. They are promising to maintain their policies of limiting local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration agents.
In doing so, municipal officials risk losing millions of dollars in federal assistance for their cities that helps pay for services such as fighting crime and running homeless shelters. Trump has vowed to block all federal funding for cities where local law enforcement agencies do not cooperate with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents.
But as Trump prepares to take office, Democratic bastions, including Boston, Philadelphia and San Francisco, have reaffirmed plans to defy the administration and act as a kind of bulwark against mass deportations.
“I like to compare this to conscientious objector status,” said Mayor Libby Schaaf of Oakland, California. “We are not going to use our resources to enforce what we believe are unjust immigration laws.”
Supporters of tougher immigration policies, however, expect a swift response. Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which opposes legalization for unauthorized immigrants, predicted “a very aggressive, no-holds-barred support for using the full power of the federal government to discourage this kind of interference.”
“The Trump administration is basically saying, ‘If you want to accommodate, don’t expect the rest of us to pay for your services,'” Stein said.
Cities “may not have the power to give people rights,” said Muzaffar Chishti, director of the Migration Policy Institute’s office at the New York University School of Law. “But they have a lot of power of resistance, and that’s what they’re displaying right now.”