President-elect Donald Trump has said he will end so-called “sanctuary cities” for unauthorized immigrants. That label refers to hundreds of places across the country, including Seattle, Los Angeles and Austin, Texas.
Sanctuary policies draw a line between local police and immigration agents. In Seattle, for example, police are directed to not ask a person’s immigration status.
Cities and counties adopt policies like this so immigrants feel safe to report a crime or seek help without fear of deportation. Opponents argue it encourages unauthorized immigration.
Congress has taken up bills before to block funding for sanctuary cities. Washington Congressman Adam Smith, D-Tacoma, has voted against them.
Smith: “Putting aside for the moment the mechanics and the legal aspects of this, it’s just a stupid thing for a president to focus on, basically ripping apart families and trying to find ways to punish cities for acting humanely.”
Smith thinks any proposed cuts would likely be limited to funds that directly deal with immigration enforcement. He also suggests this loss of funds would not necessarily change how police do their jobs, since local jurisdictions set priorities for law enforcement.
Previous efforts in Congress to defund sanctuary cities targeted specific law enforcement grants. Several counties in Washington receive these grants to help pay for training and resources. Police and sheriff groups around the country spoke out against the measures.
Since the election, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has reiterated support for undocumented immigrants and sanctuary polices. Many local leaders around the U.S. have done the same.
On the topic of immigration, Smith did offer up one different priority for the next president.
“It might be nice if he started off by apologizing to all the people that he insulted over the course of the last year,” Smith said, listing off people with disabilities, women, Latinos and Muslims.
At last check, an apology is not listed in Trump’s 10-point immigration plan.