The Santa Ana City Council was in a headlong rush to pass a “sanctuary city” ordinance prior for Donald Trump’s inauguration as president on January 20, and adopted such an ordinance on January 17 – to the cheers of progressive Latino activists applauding the councilmembers collective vows to “protect” undocumented residents.
Today, President Trump signed an executive order to cut-off federal funding for sanctuary cities – municipalities that have made non-cooperation with federal immigration authorities their official policy.
“What the executive order does is, it directs the Secretary [of Homeland Security] to … look at funding streams that are going to these cities … and figure out how we can defund those streams,” said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer at a press conference earlier today. “We’re going to strip federal grant money from the sanctuary states and cities that harbor illegal immigrants.”
The order states “Sanctuary jurisdictions across the United States willfully violate Federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States. These jurisdictions have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic” and iterates it is “the policy of the executive branch” to “ensure that jurisdictions that fail to comply with applicable Federal law do not receive Federal funds, except as mandated by law.”
The order designates Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and the Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end federal funding to sanctuary cities:
In furtherance of this policy, the Attorney General and the Secretary, in their discretion and to the extent consistent with law, shall ensure that jurisdictions that willfully refuse to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373 (sanctuary jurisdictions) are not eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary. The Secretary has the authority to designate, in his discretion and to the extent consistent with law, a jurisdiction as a sanctuary jurisdiction. The Attorney General shall take appropriate enforcement action against any entity that violates 8 U.S.C. 1373, or which has in effect a statute, policy, or practice that prevents or hinders the enforcement of Federal law.
The Director of the Office of Management and Budget is directed to obtain and provide relevant and responsive information on all Federal grant money that currently is received by any sanctuary jurisdiction.
Santa Ana has deliberately placed itself in the cross-hairs of this action. The fiscal consequences for the city – which recently and narrowly averted insolvency – could be devastating. Most media attention has focused on the city’s potential loss of $2 million in annual revenue from the contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement under which ICE houses illegal immigrant detainees in the city’s jail. However, a majority of the council, responding to pressure from left-wing activists, wants to end the jail contract and ultimately find some other use for their large, modern jail facility.
However, the city receives significant federal funds from other sources, such as $1.4 million from the Department of Urban Housing’s HOME program, “the largest Federal block grant to state and local governments designed exclusively to create affordable housing for low-income households.”
Santa Ana also receives:
- $5,8 million from HUD’s Community Development Block Grant/Emergency Solutions Grant program.
- Nearly $27 million in federal Section 8 housing vouchers for the poor and $2.1 million from the federal Non-Elderly Disabled vouchers program.
- More than $7 from the Department of Homeland Security under the Urban Area Security Initiative Grant program.
- $4.6 million in Federal Clean Water Protection funds
- $2.4 million in Federal Aid Safety Program revenues.
This merely cursory review of Santa Ana’s FY 2016-17 budget turned up more than $50 million in federal funding – approximately 10% of the city’s budget.
The Trump Administration announcement it intends to shut off federal revenues for sanctuary cities comes on the its third full business day. There’s every indication it means business. Sanctuary cities are an article of faith among progressive activists, the policy is widely unpopular among the electorate at-large – even in blue California. According to an August 2015 Institute for Government Studies/UC Berkeley poll, 74 % of Californians oppose sanctuary cities. That opposition cuts across partisan and ethnic lines; 73% of Democrats, 82% of Republicans, 70% of independents and 65% of Latinos are against cities refusing to cooperate with federal law enforcement regarding illegal immigrants.
In retrospect, the council’s rush to become a sanctuary city may only succeed in placing the entire city in jeopardy of insolvency. It’s eagerness to placate progressive political activists – many of whom do not live in Santa Ana – may come at the expense of the poor and working people those activists claim to champion. Given the clear signals from the Administration that it is focusing its deportation efforts on criminal illegal immigrants, average Santa Ana voters of every background may wonder what their councilmembers were thinking.