Los Angeles leaders stood their ground today as President Trump signed an order that essentially withholds funds from cities that defy his plan to deport at least 3 million people. It wasn't immediately clear how those cities would be identified, what cash was on the line or whether the order would even pass legal muster. The president's order says jurisdictions that fail to comply with federal rules will be cut off "except as mandated by law."
Though the definition of a "sanctuary city" has long been a subject of dispute, Los Angeles is clearly one of the most immigrant-friendly cities in the nation, and the county's 1 million undocumented residents make it perhaps the largest target for an administration taking no prisoners in its vow to reverse the effects of illegal immigration. Trump also authorized the creation of the cornerstone of his campaign: a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
"Sanctuary jurisdictions across the United States willfully violate federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States," the president's order on sanctuary cities states. "These jurisdictions have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our republic."
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti today fired back, noting that 40 percent of the nation's goods move through the ports of L.A. and Long Beach and that cutting off federal funding here would put "the personal safety and economic health of our entire nation at risk."
At the same time, he argued that there is no lack of cooperation between Los Angeles and federal authorities when it comes to immigration.
"The idea that we do not cooperate with the federal government is simply at odds with the facts," the mayor said in a statement. "We regularly cooperate with immigration authorities — particularly in cases that involve serious crimes — and always comply with constitutional detainer requests.
"What we don’t do is ask local police officers to enforce federal immigration laws — and that’s an official LAPD policy that has been enforced for nearly 40 years. That is for everyone’s good, because trust between police and the people they serve is absolutely essential to effective law enforcement."
The City Council recently voted to create an immigrant advocate's office, a move that anticipated this very day. The idea is to hire a City Hall legal adviser with immigration expertise who also could help immigrants avoid the kind of mass deportation promised by Trump. The city, county and nonprofits also are creating a $10 million legal fund to help immigrants fight deportation.
Rusty Hicks, leader of the powerful Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, said in a statement that labor would fight for those here illegally.
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"President Trump’s dark deportation scheme has moved from cynical campaign tactic to an un-American reality," he said. "Angelenos come from more than 140 countries and speak 224 languages. Our strength lies in our diversity."
U.S. Rep. Tony Cardenas of the San Fernando Valley argued that the president was attempting to unravel the economic and social fabric of the nation. "Trump’s actions today are a disgrace to our country," he said in a statement. "They will tear apart our economy and hurt American jobs, and American families will suffer from these baseless policies. Trump is stoking fear in people’s hearts and minds."
The largest pro-immigrant group in California, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), vowed to take to the streets.
"The immigrant community, and the American people, will not stand to see people's civil and human rights violated," Angelica Salas, CHIRLA's executive director, said in a statement, "and we will organize in the streets and halls of Congress and strengthen our alliances with a civic society utterly dismayed with today's actions."