President-elect Trump’s hardline statements on immigration, which are often peppered with shifting details, have left millions of Americans uncertain about their future status in the U.S. More than 700,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children are protected currently by Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”), established by President Obama, and another four to five million were eligible for protection under a similar program for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful residents. Many of these families’ information could be stored in federal systems, allowing for targeted removal under the Trump administration.
Below are two of the less discussed areas where some of the national debate over immigration policy may take place under the soon-to-be President Trump:
One of the ways in which major fights are already shaping between state and local governments and the federal government. In the wake of recent threats to hardline immigration policy, many cities have designated themselves “sanctuary cities,” meaning they will not help the federal government enforce immigration laws. Efforts include not expending law enforcement resources on catching undocumented immigrants, and refusing to turn over information about undocumented individuals to federal agencies.
Just last week, the city of Chicago approved a $1.3 million budget amendment to create a legal protection fund for immigrants. The mayors or New York and Los Angeles signed a letter with more than a dozen others asking him to extend the deferred action program; Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel, presented the letter to President-elect at Trump Tower last month. Sanctuary cities and states have been threatened by opposing officials with the probable revocation of federal funds, including DOJ and DHS grants. In the most extreme of cases, the government could sue the sanctuary cities to turn over the names of undocumented residents.
Whether any of these situations are likely to happen may or may not be confirmed within the next few weeks. Such sanctuary policies have also been pursued on college campuses across the country. Regardless of whether these policies spur court action or not, such “sanctuary” measures are sure to stir up a fight between those feds trying to enforce policies and local governments and heads of academic institutions fighting back if funds are revoked.
Just as Texas successfully blocked effort to extend deferred action to parents through protracted legal battles, those fighting against the dissolution of deferred action can use litigation to slow down immigration rules and laws. The attorney general of states such as Illinois, New York, and California are expected to be some of the first to challenge the President-elect’s policies.
Civil rights groups and pro-immigration groups, as well, will be some of the first to fight any legislation or executive action that is perceived to violate immigrant rights. States like California, where California Representative Xavier Becerra opted to leave Congress, where he had a term-limited leadership position, to serve as California’s attorney general, have already taken measures to fight Trump’s immigration plans.
Whether the President-elect follows through on his proposed hardline approach to immigration is still in question, but in the meantime states and constituents have show that they are ready to fight.