By Jon Campbell
May 17, 2017
Many cities across the U.S. identify as sanctuary cities, despite President Trump’s threat to withhold federal funds. Here’s a closer look at what that label means. USA TODAY NETWORK
ALBANY, N.Y. — Attorneys general from five states and the District of Columbia are coordinating against President Trump’s push to punish cities that decline to assist federal immigration enforcers.
The six Democrats, led by Eric Schneiderman of New York, have combined on a legal analysis that contends such “sanctuary cities” can limit their involvement in immigration enforcement efforts without flouting federal law.
Attorneys general from California, the District of Columbia, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Washington state signed on to the report, which was released Wednesday.
“Federal law does not compel state and local governments and (law-enforcement agencies) to participate in federal civil immigration functions, nor could it under the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution,” according to the report.
Sanctuary city is a widely used term that refers to local governments that refuse to cooperate — or limit cooperation — with federal immigration officials.
At least 300 local governments across the USA have taken some steps to limit cooperation.
“Federal law does not compel state and local governments and (law-enforcement agencies) to participate in federal civil immigration functions, nor could it under the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution.”
‘Setting the Record Straight on Local Involvement in Federal Civil Immigration Enforcement’ report
Trump signed an executive order Jan. 25 that sought to block federal money for such jurisdictions, claiming they “willfully violate federal law” and “have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our republic.”
A federal judge in California blocked much of the order last month, calling it coercive and ruling that Trump’s attempt to withhold all federal money for such cities violates constitutional principles.
The report from the attorneys general focuses heavily on detainer requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which can be issued to hold immigrants 48 hours after they would be otherwise released if probable cause can show they are in the country illegally.
The state officials make the case that local law-enforcement agencies have the right to refuse such requests, pointing in part to the 10th Amendment, which delegates all powers to states that aren’t specifically given to the federal government in the U.S. Constitution.
They also claim local governments could open themselves up to lawsuits for holding someone in custody too long if probable cause is not shown to exist.
In a statement, Eric Schneiderman, New York’s attorney general, called the report an “unprecedented statement by top law enforcement officials across the country.”
“Local police departments should not and cannot be forced to shatter the trust and credibility they’ve built with their communities just to advance President Trump’s radical deportation agenda,” he said.
Trump’s administration has defended the order, vowing to continue the legal battle.
Supporters of the order say sanctuary cities potentially threaten public safety because officials there free immigrants who are in the country illegally after they are taken into custody for other reasons.
“We cannot faithfully execute the immigration laws of the United States if we exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement,” Trump’s order reads.
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