Trump threatens safety of undocumented immigrants in sanctuary cities

By Cecelia Heckman
January 30, 2017

Editor’s note: This editorial received the 2016-17 Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence regional award as a finalist in the Online Opinion & Commentary category  Region 1 Mark of Excellence Awards. Her entries “Trump threatens safety of undocumented immigrants“; “Slavery has not ended“; “Do not be a bystander

Flickr / Michael Righi

Since the day President Donald Trump was sworn into office, he has been very busy taking steps forward to complete many of the promises he made during his campaign. One of the things he was most well-known for in that time was his strong stance against immigration, something he is now moving forward on.

On Wednesday, Jan. 25, Trump signed an executive order that made many furious and uneasy, moving to take away funding from sanctuary cities like nearby Philadelphia.

First of all, what is a sanctuary city? Some cities, like Philadelphia, with large undocumented populations, have decided not to use its police to do the federal work of immigration enforcement. The cities say, “Hey, we have enough to do, and unless people commit some crime, we are not going after immigrants. That’s the feds’ job.”

Cities decide to take this position for a couple of reasons. First, police say they have enough to do and they are not going to do the feds’ work for them. Second, police want people to assist them with preventing crime and so they do not want a whole group of people to fear speaking to the police. Third, undocumented people are essential to many cities, as workers and consumers.

These “sanctuary cities,” though many do not officially declare themselves as such, take action to protect non-criminal undocumented immigrants from being detained or deported by often limiting their cooperation with the feds’ immigration enforcement, however the individual city decides is the best way.

According to Reuters News Agency, this order by Trump could take away an estimated $2.27 billion annually from the 10 largest cities in the United States, but no one even truly understands what Trump’s threat means. Will he be trying to take away federal health money, roads money, etc.? Or just police money?

This has not stopped the leaders of many of these cities from speaking out, voicing their plans to stand by all of their citizens, undocumented immigrants included.

Philadelphia’s own Mayor Kenney told philly.com that Trump’s threat of pulling funding will not scare him into changing the city’s policing policy one bit, promising to protect everyone living in the city.

Philadelphia is by no means the only city affected even in the local area. In fact, Philadelphia County is one of 16 current “sanctuary counties” in Pennsylvania alone, according to the Center for Immigration Studies. Cabrini’s own Delaware County makes that list.

Map of all sanctuary counties within PA, based on the Center for Immigration Studies.

Large amounts of these sanctuary cities and counties can be found countrywide, especially in many of the largest cities in the United States.

So, what can be done now to save this funding? The next goal is to prove that this action by Trump is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced.

This is not a far-fetched goal. CNN reports that in the past courts have ruled that “funding decisions may not be used to ‘coerce’ states into actions” as it is unconstitutional. Also, Trump cannot fully cut the federal funding, as Congress has a large say in that allocation as well.

It will most likely come down to a court’s decision in this case as well. Though most cities are standing by their promises of providing a safe place for all their population, this is still bringing so much unease and fear for those undocumented immigrants as well as their friends, families, employers, and even officers who would have to soon enforce these new changes.

Until then, we must all continue to voice the faults in this order in order for Trump to truly see the panic he is causing. Staying silent will only result in a continual push by him to take more rights away.

Cecelia Heckman

Junior Editor-in-Chief/ Executive Content Manager of Loquitur. Digital Communications and Social Media major with a Business Administration minor. Student ambassador, Assistant Operations Manager of WYBF and show co-host, President of Alpha Lambda Delta, member of the Society for Collegiate Journalists and member of the Cabrini Honor's Program.

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