Big “sanctuary cities” like Chicago and New York are determined to defy President-elect Donald Trump’s command to detain undocumented immigrant criminals, but many smaller ones may find it harder to do so, reports Stateline. Smaller cities and counties that ignore requests from federal authorities to detain undocumented immigrants may find themselves vulnerable to the president-elect’s threat to withhold federal money from them if they do not cooperate, especially in states where Trump won a majority of votes. Trump wants to deport 2 million to 3 million immigrants with criminal records. He has vowed to withhold hundreds of millions, if not billions, of federal dollars for policing, jails, courts, housing, roads, and education from cities, counties, and states that provide a “sanctuary” by not cooperating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and detaining the criminals for deportation.
More than 300 cities and counties are counted as sanctuaries because they defy federal immigration policy. Many smaller sanctuaries say they have no choice because state and federal courts have ruled that local jurisdictions can be found in violation of immigrants’ civil rights if they detain them simply at the request of ICE, without a court order. “Some of these smaller areas are between a rock and a hard place,” said Hadi Sedigh of the National Association of Counties. “They’re being told on the one hand that there are these court cases and they’re going to get sued if they cooperate, and on the other hand the federal government is saying you’re going to lose funding if you don’t cooperate.” In all, local authorities in 43 states refused to honor 16,000 ICE detainer requests from October 2013 to December 2015. Only in Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Vermont, and Wyoming did local officials honor all requests.