In January, President Trump signed an Executive Order blocking sanctuary jurisdictions from receiving certain federal funding. Some 300 jurisdictions across the nation maintain policies that protect illegal aliens and/or impede the ability of the federal government to enforce immigration laws. These policies are expressly prohibited under federal statutes.
The Center for American Progress (CAP), which had a revolving door with the Obama administration and was a key player in formulating the former president’s immigration policies, has very helpfully quantified how much sanctuary jurisdictions stand to lose if they persist in these policies. It has also identified which programs and federal grants will be affected. By CAP’s estimation, $870 million a year is at stake for state and local politicians as they decide whether keep the cash or preserve their ideological chastity.
Some jurisdictions, like Miami-Dade County, Florida, and Dayton, Ohio, immediately opted to keep the flow of federal dollars coming their way and dropped their sanctuary policies. Others, where coddling illegal aliens is not just an ideology, but their seeming raison d’être, have decided to play a very expensive game of chicken with a president who is not known for backing down.
Unsurprisingly, California, which is one big 163,696 square mile sanctuary jurisdiction and a fiscal mess, stands to lose the most federal money overall, $239.5 million. On a per capita basis, New Yorkers would be the biggest losers as their state would forfeit $191 million in federal program and grant money.
In the most hardcore sanctuary jurisdictions, local politicians are going to face some very difficult choices: abandon their cherished sanctuary policies and alienate their political base, or abandon hundreds of millions of desperately needed federal dollars and alienate voters who would rather their elected officials focused on keeping the lights on. The first such showdown is likely to come in President Trump’s home town, New York City, where Mayor Bill de Blasio is up for reelection in November. Due in part to the city’s unconditional welcome mat for illegal aliens, the Big Apple is staring at a $3.8 billion budget gap by FY 2019 (the second year of the mayor’s second term, if the voters decide to give him one).
Of course, it’s hard to feel too sorry for the political leaders who are going to be forced to make these hard choices. They knew that the policies they were adopting were a violation of federal law, but they did so anyway, believing that their political gestures would come without consequence. Now, it seems, there will be a price to pay – $870 million a year, according to CAP – and whatever they decide will make a lot of people very unhappy.