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Sanctuary Cities 'Stand Resolute' in Face of Threatened Funding Cut-Off

Officials from country's largest urban centers strategized on sheltering undocumented immigrants after White House announced plan to withhold federal aid

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has estimated that 118 jurisdictions have vowed not to cooperate with agents seeking to detain undocumented residents. (Photo: Mike Maguire/flickr/cc)

Sanctuary cities are refusing to back down in the face of the Trump administration's crackdown on immigration, which was codified on Monday after Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatened to cut off funding for states and cities that shelter undocumented residents.

Officials from many of those jurisdictions met in New York on Tuesday to discuss how to fight the plan—the second consecutive day of brainstorming from leaders of some of the country's biggest urban centers, as Reuters noted. The strategy session brought in attendees from California, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington state, Wisconsin, and elsewhere.

It was preceded by the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), a left-leaning advocacy group, releasing a guide and toolkit on protecting undocumented immigrants. The blueprint, published last week, aims to help local-level policymakers "create or further strengthen sanctuary style laws and policies."

That call is widespread these days.

As New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted Monday night, "The Trump administration is pushing an unrealistic and mean spirited executive order. If they want a fight, we'll see them in court."

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray added, "[W]e stand resolute. Trump's immigration policy is based in bigotry not safety."

California's Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León called the plan "nothing short of blackmail" and warned, "Withholding federal resources is unconstitutional. We'll not hesitate to fight him, and settle the matter in court."

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has estimated that 118 jurisdictions have vowed not to cooperate with agents seeking to detain undocumented residents. As much as $4.1 billion in federal aid is at stake.

Cristóbal Alex, president of the New York-based Latino Victory Fund, said the announcement was an attempt by Sessions and President Donald Trump to distract the public from the GOP's failure to pass the American Healthcare Act (AHCA) on Friday.

"Let's not be fooled by what the administration is trying to do with this announcement on sanctuary cities," Alex said. "Trump and Sessions are bringing back the immigrant bashing to change the topic of the day after their embarrassing heath care defeat last week. Trump said that he was going to deport felons, but so far we have seen that ICE is going after undocumented immigrants without criminal records."

As Chicago City Council member Carlos Ramirez-Rosa reported at the New York conference, an ICE raid in his jurisdiction led to a man being shot and wounded when agents stormed his home, where eight people, including three children, were sleeping.

The man who was shot was not who the ICE agents were looking for.

"This guns blazing exactly why my city should refuse to comply with ICE, under all circumstances," Ramirez-Rosa said.

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