As President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office, a major showdown looms between his administration and cities across the country over one of his hallmark campaign issues: illegal immigration.
At the Southern border, agents are on pace to apprehend almost 600,000 illegal immigrants, the highest number in eight years. The surge is coming largely from Central American migrants, far outpacing those from Mexico.
“They’re mobilizing because they don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but know today they can cross,” said Chris Cabrera, of the National Border Patrol Council.
Many illegal immigrants from Central America indeed have been motivated to make the trek after word traveled under the Obama administration that some could request asylum, claiming a “credible fear” of persecution should they return home.
But another driver is the knowledge that certain major cities offer “sanctuary” protections from deportation. Those same cities are now gearing up to fight on their illegal immigrant residents’ behalf against the incoming president.
In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the creation of the L.A. Justice Fund, a multi-million dollar fund to provide legal assistance to immigrants facing deportation.
“The reason it was important for us to act is we will have a change in government next month,” he said. “We expect there could be actions right away.”
In announcing the fund, Garcetti vowed to fight for the “good and law-abiding immigrants of Los Angeles.” Asked if those with a criminal record would be excluded, however, he said no.
But such cities could be in for a major battle with the Trump administration, following campaign vows to deny federal funds to sanctuary cities.
Texas GOP Rep. John Culberson says federal law prohibits local and state law enforcement from refusing to share immigration status information with federal authorities. He believes the law will give Trump the power to follow through in denying funds to sanctuary cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.