New Orleans Big cities with large immigrant populations are stepping up and shouting loudly towards Washington that they will refuse to be attack dogs for any new administration initiatives to forcibly deport undocumented workers and families from their jurisdictions. According to an estimate from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, an advocacy and legal assistance group in San Francisco and Washington there are an estimated 500 local city and county governments around the country that have refused at some level to forward information from police to the Department of Homeland Security as part of the local communities program. Checking the data would allow DHS to determine if someone is in the country legally.
There are interesting bits of irony at play that give local jurisdictions some reason to believe that their resistance could be effective. Some of President-elect Trump’s biggest drumbeaters on this issue including Kansas Secretary of State and counsel to FAIR, the hardline anti-immigrant rightwing group, Kris Kobach, and former mayor of New York City and current wannabe Secretary of State, Rudy Giuliani, both have made the case that local jurisdictions have rights that supersede the federal threats. The Times twists the knife here, saying:
In the past, conservatives have embraced the notion that state and city officials can assert themselves with immigration laws. One of Mr. Trump’s immigration advisers is Kris W. Kobach, who helped write a law in Arizona that allowed the police to question people they detained about immigration status. That provision was upheld by the Supreme Court. Rudolph W. Giuliani, an adviser to Mr. Trump who is expected to join his administration, unsuccessfully sued the government in 1996, when he was the mayor of New York, over a federal law he said infringed on local protections for undocumented immigrants.
I would love to see Kobach’s Arizona anti-immigrant strategy for the now defeated Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Phoenix’s Maricopa County turned against them.
The case that cities like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and others are making is that their local police departments are not federal agents and therefore should not be forced to act as enforcers of federal immigration policy. There’s a federal agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), part of the Department of Homeland Security that is charged with that responsibility, so locals are essentially saying “do your job, we’re not going to do it for you on our local taxpayer’s dollar.” A Trump Administration’s case would almost be stronger if they were funding a presumed mandate for enforcement rather than trying to compel cooperation.
The threat from the right holds its own irony because most of it is a threat to withhold federal money from states and cities. Turns out the philosophy of local and state’s rights is really founded on no particular principle other than whose ox is being gored and who gets to say it’s their ball when the game is played. For millions this is no game, and so continues the resistance.