By Nora Lubin
Following his foiled immigration ban this January, Donald Trump has threatened to defund sanctuary cities across the United States. Since that time, with far-reaching state and civil support, these cities have fought back.
Sanctuary cities have long been important beacons of refuge for immigrants coming to the United States. They seek to help those at risk avoid deportation by limiting cooperation with the national government. Chicago is one of these cities, and, since the time Trump took office, it has been in contention with immigration officers looking to round-up undocumented immigrants.
Many do not know that this authority is not one stolen by local governments; on the contrary, it is the right of states to impose their own legal jurisdiction over immigration policy.
That being said, there is no such thing as an “illegal” immigrant. There exists no federal law criminalizing immigration into the United States, yet we so easily buy into Trump’s erroneous claims of its illegality.
The second false pretense presented by President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions is the act of defunding. The reason the executive branch did not explicitly describe the logistics of how funds would be withheld from sanctuary cities is because there is not much action they can feasibly take, outside of the grants from the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security, already instituted under the Obama administration. However, under this executive order, certain sanctuary cities would stand to lose more than $1 billion without these grants.
As of April 25th, one California judge has temporarily blocked Trump’s efforts nationwide, stating that the president had overstepped his powers with the alleged withholding of billions of federal dollars for immigration enforcement, with conditions only Congress could constitutionally put in place.
With tensions furiously rising, the threat of defunding sanctuary cities is yet another flame added to the fire. Dehumanizing people with epithets like “illegal,” and orders like the ones proposed by the Trump administration, perpetuates an atmosphere of hostility and divisiveness. Learning through diversity, Harold Washington College students know firsthand that the power of tolerance and inclusion is a far greater tool for achieving security on both the national and international levels.
Now, more than ever, we must all continue to show up for one another. We must support our city in its struggle to keep its arms open for immigrants who come to this country. These are people who pass the very same guiding light as our ancestors–a venerable statue that used to stand for liberty–not just for some, but for all.