Sanctuary Policy Must Be Part of Debate over COVD-19 Aid to States



Despite their previous attempts to include politically-advantageous provisions, including raising the federal cap on tax deductions for state and local taxes and increasing funding for mail-in voting, Democrats are screaming at President Trump’s suggestion that sanctuary policy should be a part of the discussion over bailing out states and cities.

Asked about a request from the National Governors Association for $500 billion in federal bailout funds, Trump expressed reservations about the basic idea of using a pandemic as a reason for bailing out states.

“The problem with the states is we’re not looking to recover 25 years of bad management and give them the money they lost. That’s unfair to other states,” Trump said. Congress did include in the CARES Act a $150 billion stabilization fund for states and, in early April, the Federal Reserve took the unusual step of creating a $500 billion loan program to help defray coronavirus-related costs.

“I think sanctuary cities is something that has to be brought up where people who are criminals are protected, they are protected from prosecution.”

Trump indicated at an afternoon White House event on the Payroll Protection Program that he might favor giving funds to states if they are Covid-19 related, but “we’d want certain things also, including sanctuary city adjustments,”

On Wednesday, he again raised the possibility of conditioning funds on whether or not a state or city embraces sanctuary policies. “If you’re going to give millions of dollars of aid then you shouldn’t have sanctuary cities,” stated Trump, who noted he does not “see helping cities and states if they’re sanctuaries.”

The ACLU lashed out on Twitter saying, “We cannot allow the Trump administration to exploit a public health crisis to further their anti-immigrant agenda,” while Boston Mayor Marty Walsh called the suggestion a “fear tactic.”

“President Trump’s threat to hold coronavirus funding hostage to cities and states across the country are the latest in his efforts to push a sinister political agenda that only aims to punish us all — citizens and non-citizens alike,” declared New York Attorney General Letitia James, who campaigned on a pro-sanctuary platform.

Congressional Democrats are demanding the federal government not only bail out states but do so without putting any restrictions on how the funds can be used or doled out. Their position is not only fiscally questionable but also incredibly hypocritical.

In fact, Democrats are criticizing President Trump for using the exact same tactics they employed when negotiating the $2 trillion CARES Act.  The Democrats succeeded in inserting a provision in the legislation that specifically prohibited the administration from restricting or placing conditions on the $850 million in Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program, which are the leading source of federal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions.

The provision was an attempt by Democrats to undermine the Justice Department’s authority to withhold those funds from sanctuary jurisdictions, a right that was confirmed in a February ruling by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.

A week after the ruling, Trump tweeted, “As per recent Federal Court ruling, the Federal Government will be withholding funds from Sanctuary Cities. They should change their status and go non-Sanctuary. Do not protect criminals!”

Whether or not Trump will succeed in placing conditions on funding to states in the next COVID-19 stimulus bill is unclear, but eliminating sanctuary cities must be part of the discussion about bailing out states that were pursuing failed policies well before the arrival of the coronavirus. 

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Jennifer joined FAIR as Web Content Writer in 2017 and brings to the role extensive communications and media background. She began her career as a policy research analyst on multiple national and state political campaigns before entering journalism. In addition to spending over a decade writing for several broadcast and print news outlets, Jennifer directed communications strategy for a member of Congress and a military nonprofit.

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