Trump signs order to pull federal funding from sanctuary cities


Daily file photo by Daniel Tian

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl addresses City Council. Tisdahl said in a statement Wednesday the city wouldn’t “abandon our residents who are immigrants.”

Nora Shelly, City Editor

President Donald Trump issued an executive order Wednesday to pull most federal funding from sanctuary cities, putting Evanston at risk of losing federal grant money.

The order follows through on a promise Trump made during his campaign to crack down on sanctuary cities, which are municipalities that refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities. The move was first announced at a news conference with Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who said the administration is going to “strip federal grant money” from sanctuary cities and states.

“The American people are no longer going to have to be forced to subsidize this disregard for our laws,” he said.

Trump then signed the executive order at the Department of Homeland Security. It alleges sanctuary jurisdictions “willfully violate Federal law” by not cooperating with immigration authorities. It also prohibits sanctuary cities from receiving federal grant money “except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary.”

The order also calls for the Office of Management and Budget to provide information on federal grants received by any sanctuary city or state and orders the deportation of any undocumented immigrant living in the country who has been charged or convicted of a crime, or has “abused any program related to receipt of public benefits.” Trump also signed an executive order authorizing the construction of a Mexican border wall on Wednesday.

Evanston clarified its status as a sanctuary city in December by passing a “welcoming city” ordinance, which prohibits city officials — including police officers — from inquiring about someone’s legal status. Additionally, it does not require Evanston Police Department to detain people for immigration officials unless they have been charged with a serious crime.

In the months since, Evanston/Skokie School District 65 and Evanston Township High School District 202 boards have passed “safe haven” resolutions, which prohibit school officials from inquiring about the legal status of students or parents. Additionally, Northwestern officials have reiterated support for the protection of undocumented students.

City manager Wally Bobkiewicz said there was no rough estimate on how much money Evanston receives through federal grants, and it is not yet clear which grants will be at stake.

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, who pushed aldermen to take action on the “welcoming city” ordinance last year, issued a statement on Thursday saying Evanston would stand behind the ordinance.

“I am troubled by the Executive Order issued by the President today regarding Sanctuary Cities,” she said in the statement. “I support the rights of all our residents, including immigrants, to live their lives in our community safely and without fear. (Evanston) will continue to work to welcome all people to our community.”

Tisdahl has previously stood behind the ordinance. Before the “welcoming city” ordinance was passed in December, Tisdahl told The Daily she was going to ask other mayors to consider declaring themselves a “sanctuary city.”

“I don’t want to lose that money, and I don’t want to abandon our residents who are immigrants,” she said in November. “Once we tighten up our language, I think there’s strength in numbers.”

Chicago is also a declared sanctuary city. Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at a news conference the city would not change its policy in light of the executive order.

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Twitter: @noracshelly