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 illegal immigrants, reports the New York Times. They are promising to maintain their policies of limiting local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration agents. City officials risk losing millions of dollars in federal assistance that helps pay for services like 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 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. As he prepares to take office, Democratic bastions like Boston, Philadelphia, and San Francisco have reaffirmed plans to defy the administration and act as bulwark against mass deportations.
“I like to compare this to conscientious objector status,” said Mayor Libby Schaaf of Oakland. “We are not going to use our resources to enforce what we believe are unjust immigration laws.” Supporters of tougher immigration policies expect a swift response. Dan Stein 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.” Some believe Trump could go further than pulling federal aid, perhaps fighting such policies in court or even prosecuting city leaders. “This is uncharted territory in some ways, to see if they’re just playing chicken, or see if they will relent,” said Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies, which supports reduced immigration. Cities have “gotten away with this for a long time because the federal government has never attempted to crack down on them,” she said.