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President Trump Issues Executive Order on Immigration

League of California Cities, National League of Cities and U.S. Conference of Mayors, Concerned with Provisions that Threaten Local Control, Dictate How Cities Allocate Public Safety Resources

January 27, 2017
In keeping with his campaign promise to strengthen immigration enforcement, on Wednesday, Jan. 25, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that includes provisions stating that “sanctuary jurisdictions” are “not eligible to receive Federal grants” with unclear exceptions. 
 
He signed the order during a visit to the Department of Homeland Security. 
 
Although there is no statutory or legal definition of a “sanctuary jurisdiction” or "sanctuary city," under the executive order, they are defined as ones who are not in compliance with a federal law that prohibits or restricts cities from prohibiting local agencies from cooperating with federal agencies to identify a person’s immigration status. The U.S. Attorney General and the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security will decide who is and who is not a “sanctuary jurisdiction.” 
 
In a statement responding to the executive order, the League of California Cities® expressed concern that the President’s actions will interfere with local control over how scarce local police resources in communities are allocated. The League also expressed concern that the threat of federal sanctions connected to immigration enforcement under the executive order will undermine effective local policing, including ongoing efforts to strengthen police-community relations and build trust. 
 
Instead of an executive order that would shift federal responsibility for enforcement of federal laws to local governments, the League continues to advocate for the President and Congress to enact a comprehensive and balanced approach to fixing the nation’s immigration system — one that not only addresses equitable enforcement, but also incorporates thoughtful and sensitive solutions to the realities associated with millions of families, students and workers living in California and throughout the country. 
 
The National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors expressed similar concerns in their statements responding to the President’s actions. 
 
Other components of the President’s executive order outlined the enforcement priorities of the Administration, require the creation of guidance and regulations to ensure the collection of related civil fines and penalties, authorize the hiring of 10,000 additional immigration officers, and direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to enter into agreements to authorize state and local law enforcement officials to perform the functions of immigration officers.
 
Various Constitutional questions are also being explored as attorneys review the matter. One area involves the 10th Amendment and the powers that are reserved to the states. Case law likely limits the ability of the federal government to withhold existing funding as a method of compelling local enforcement of federal immigration laws. The U.S. Supreme Court recently held in NIFB v. Sebelius (2012) that it was unconstitutional for the federal government to withhold Medicaid funds from states in an effort to compel them to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Separation of powers issues may also exist between the roles of the President and Congress over authority to condition existing grant funds. 
 
Considerable uncertainty exists on how this issue will evolve in the coming weeks and months. More information may be forthcoming from the U.S. Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security as to which jurisdictions the executive order will apply and the specific funding involved. At the state level, the Governor, Attorney General and legislative leadership have all been vocal on the issue and the potential exists for litigation and other actions.  
 
The League will continue to analyze the executive order, seek additional information as to its application and impacts and inform cities as the issue develops. 


 
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