Donald Trump orders government to withhold Federal grant money from sanctuary cities.

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump signed an executive order instructing his cabinet and staff to begin the process of withholding funds from cities that harbor illegal immigrants. These municipalities are colloquially known as sanctuary cities. Sanctuary cities exist when elected officials and law enforcement refuse to fully cooperate with federal immigration officials. When an illegal immigrant is apprehended in connection with another crime, sanctuary cities often refuse to detain them beyond the appropriate release date, citing constitutional rights as a concern. While Trump’s directive is short on details, the proposal itself has been making the rounds on Capitol Hill for years.

Under the order, federal grant money will be withheld from any state or municipality that refuses to hand over criminal illegal immigrants to the Feds.

For Coloradans, this pits the Cities of Denver and Aurora against the White House in a game of chicken, with tens of millions of dollars on the line. These cities shelter illegal immigrants and do not allow local law enforcement to enforce American immigration laws. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock rejected the label of “sanctuary city.”
What we saw today lacked leadership, it lacked vision, and quite frankly, I think missed a huge opportunity," Hancock said on Wednesday about Trump’s executive order. "We are not a sanctuary city. We will value residents in the city. We won't take any unlawful, unconstitutional acts, against residents of the City of Denver, and it is our goal to make sure the people in this city feel safe, and know that this is a city that is open, welcoming and inclusive."
Supporters of these policies argue Denver police have better community engagement by not enforcing immigration law. If the prospect of deportation hovered over their heads, illegal immigrants would be unwilling to cooperate with police investigations. Opponents point to the long list of tragedies stemming from when police apprehended illegal immigrant criminals and deliberately released them. Two years ago in San Francisco, this policy was thrust into the national spotlight when Kate Steinle was murdered by an illegal immigrant with a long history of deportations. Steinle’s killer – Francisco Sanchez – has been deported 5 times and has a long history of felony convictions. Even with his criminal record and history of deportations, the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office chose to release him instead of turning him over to Homeland Security. Shortly after his release, Sanchez shot Kate Steinle three times and she died two hours later at the hospital.

Many argue she would still be alive if San Francisco had turned Francisco Sanchez over to the Feds.

Denver’s Mayor is already promising to fight the executive order in court. His argument will be that the Federal government has no right to withhold grant money to compel action. However, there have been multiple times throughout our history when the Federal government threatened to withhold money from states and municipalities that refuse to fall in line with certain policies. For example, Federal highway funding was put on the chopping block in 1984 to compel states to raise their drinking ages to 21. A similar tactic was used in 1974 to compel states to set their highway speed limits at 55 mph. Neither Denver nor Aurora are interested in handing residents over to immigration officials. The White House is committed to withholding Federal grant money if necessary. Neither side seems willing to back down. One thing is certain:these sanctuary city policies now carry a very real cost for Denver and Aurora taxpayers. Whether the cities fight the order in court or face a massive budget shortfall, the taxpayers are going to be the ones to foot the bill. Will the courts stop Trump’s executive order? Will city taxpayers accept an increase in their taxes to fill this budget shortfall? How do you think this will end?  

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