Trump’s Alternative Facts Contradicting the Rights of Sanctuary Cities to Protect and Welcome Immigrants

by katherine culliton-gonzález, senior counsel

In the first few days of President Trump’s administration, our nation has already seen a direct assault on our democracy. This week, President Trump issued two anti-immigrant Executive Orders, including one on “Interior Enforcement,” which sets forth provisions punishing sanctuary cities that refuse to use their local police to enforce federal civil immigration laws. Let’s be clear: this week's orders are discrimination policies and some of them are unconstitutional. 

In my recent report for Demos, co-authored with Joanna Cuevas Ingram of LatinoJustice PRLDEF, our research found that local police enforcement of federal civil immigration laws may violate the Equal Protection and Due Process rights embedded in our Constitution. We also found that threats to retract federal funding from sanctuary jurisdictions are over-stated, and that state and local jurisdictions have legal leeway to enact various types of sanctuary policies. Unfortunately, the threats summarized in our January 13 report became new federal policies this week, but the legal defenses described for sanctuary jurisdictions are of course still viable.

Below, I have analyzed Trump’s executive order on Interior Enforcement. In analyzing the provisions of his edict, my comments highlight the legal foundation for local jurisdictions to reject many of the policies set forth in it, as well as their ability continue to provide sanctuary policies that protect and welcome immigrants by refusing to enforce federal civil immigration laws. 

The text of President Trump’s Executive Order on Interior Enforcement is reproduced in full below, with my comments in the margins. 

It's also available for download as a PDF.