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What is a sanctuary city?

President Donald Trump made it clear during his campaign that he would be tough on immigration. Anyone that entered the country without following proper protocol was put on notice - deportation was imminent. In response to this tough stance, many local leaders publicly announced that their city would be a sanctuary to these immigrants.

Did President Trump follow through? President Trump did not take favorably to this opposition. In response, one of his early actions in office was to put out an executive order stating that any city that was deemed as a sanctuary city would not receive federal funding.

What exactly is a sanctuary city? Sanctuary cities are, according to the executive order noted above, those that "willfully violate federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States."

What happens if a city is deemed a sanctuary city? The president has stated that such cities would not be eligible to receive "federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary [of Homeland Security]."

But what does this actually mean? A publication by the Journalist's Resource attempted to figure out what this rhetoric actually meant. It is difficult to determine exactly what type of funding would be withheld, but Supreme Court cases in the past have addressed similar issues have held that the blocks generally cannot extend to funding that is not related to immigration programs. As such, any attempt to withhold funds not related to immigration would likely result in a legal challenge.

Is the threat of withholding federal funding serious? The impact of withholding federal funds would vary depending on the city. Two examples of the impact are presented in the piece with Arlington and Washington D.C. Arlington, a city near Boston, would stand to lose up to $4.5 million if the denial of funds extended to include grants aimed at education and low-income residents. This is approximately 3 percent of the town's budget. In contrast, a city like Washington D.C. could stand to lose up to 25 percent of its budget.

The true impact of this executive order is still unknown, but the push for strict immigration enforcement provides an opportunity for immigrants to take these efforts seriously. If you are facing the threat of deportation, seek legal counsel. Your attorney will advocate for your rights, working to better ensure all legal alternatives are explored.

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