President-elect Donald Trump announced during his campaign that he would block millions of dollars in federal funding to cities that choose to limit coordination with federal law enforcement agencies to deport undocumented residents. Despite this threat, mayors, city administrators and police chiefs across the country have reaffirmed their commitment to upholding their city’s sanctuary status.
In addition to the entire states of California, Colorado, New Mexico and Connecticut, there are over 200 municipalities that are considered sanctuaries due to their lack of cooperation with federal immigration officials. Trump has condemned these cities and towns, saying they are obstructing immigration enforcement. However, many city officials say enforcing these federal laws through the local police frightens communities and can potentially lead to racial profiling.
In an interview with New England Public Radio (NEPR), Holyoke, Mass. Mayor Alex Morse said, “Immigrant or not, any talking point or policy about criminalizing or prosecuting or deporting immigrants in our community will target people that don’t look like me, and I think that’s incredibly dangerous rhetoric.”
Other city officials have responded with similar incredulity. In a public letter, Joseph A. Curtatone, mayor of Somerville, Mass., and Ben Echevarria, the executive director of The Welcome Project, a local immigrant organizing group in in that city, reassured residents that Somerville, “will not turn [its] back on [its] neighbors.”
“The Trump campaign put diversity in its crosshairs,” the letter said. “If cities have to make a stand for basic human decency, then we’re going to make that stand.”
Whether Trump will follow through on all of his proposed immigration reforms remains to be seen. A Trump administration that withholds federal funding – of which Somerville receives $6 million annually – to sanctuary cities will surely do them harm. While federal funding generally makes up only a potion of a city’s budget, cities will feel it most with expenses such as new fire trucks or police cruisers, special education, drug treatment programs, school lunches and other services.
When Northampton mayor, David Narkwicz, was asked by NEPR which parts of the budget could be affected if a de-funding bill were to be passed, Narkewicz replied, “lots of different areas.”
“We’re talking about cities the size of Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco,” Morse, the Holyoke mayor, said in an interview with The Boston Globe. “Millions and millions of Americans live in these communities and the thought of a president with a stroke of his pen taking billions of dollars away … I can’t fathom that happening.”
The two largest sanctuary cities in Massachusetts that receive federal funding are Boston, which receives about $250 million annually and Springfield, which, according to the city comptroller’s office, received approximately $83 million in federal revenue last year.
Please find the graphic below to view the cities and states in the US with a sanctuary status.