Easy Solution for Sanctuary Cities Facing Defunding: Stop Filing Lawsuits, Start Obeying the Law

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

March 1, 2017

Once again, California has made headline news in the sizzling-hot sanctuary city debate. The latest: Santa Clara County, population 1.9 million, petitioned a federal district court to block President Donald Trump from implementing his executive order that would withhold funding from sanctuary cities. Earlier this year, San Francisco filed a similar action.

County officials call Trump’s promise to withhold funds
from sanctuaries “extortion.”

In its suit filed February 3, Dave Cortese, president of the Santa Clara County’s Board of Supervisors, said: “We are defending Santa Clara County’s core values and the values of so many cities and counties across the nation. There is no justification for withholding nearly $1.7 billion in funds [about 35 percent of all country revenue] used to deliver essential county services.”

The county’s general counsel, James R. Williams, added: “We are spending millions of dollars each week from our general funds in anticipation of getting federal reimbursement. So we need immediate relief.”

First, Cortese’s reference to what he called the nation’s “core values” is a gross misrepresentation. A recently conducted Harvard-Harris Poll found that 80 percent of voters believe that local authorities should comply with existing law, and advise federal agents about the illegal immigrants they’ve detained.

Second, and more important, Santa Clara County can easily assure itself that it will collect every penny of its $1.7 billion funding allocation. Cortese and Williams simply have to comply with 8 U.S.C. 1373 which allows the Attorney General to take appropriate enforcement action against any city, state or county that prevents or hinders federal immigration law enforcement.

Obey the law, and “immediate relief” will be on the way.

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