Did Donald Trump get results with his announced penalties for sanctuary cities? Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Gimenez became the first mayor to sign off on new policies to end his city’s status as a immigration “sanctuary” after Donald Trump announced his get-tough policies on funding — but it may not be exactly the problem Trump had in mind. Gimenez, a Republican, had never actually declared Miami-Dade a sanctuary, and cooperation with the feds on immigration didn’t start with Miami-Dade, according to the Miami Herald and the local CBS affiliate:
Fearing a loss of millions of dollars for defying immigration authorities, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez on Thursday ordered county jails to comply with federal immigration detention requests — effectively gutting the county’s position as a “sanctuary” for immigrants in the country illegally.
Gimenez cited an executive order signed Wednesday by President Donald Trump that threatened to cut federal grants for any counties or cities that don’t cooperate fully with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Since 2013, Miami-Dade has refused to indefinitely detain inmates who are in the country illegally and wanted by ICE — not based on principle, but because the federal government doesn’t fully reimburse the county for the expense.
In fact, as Patricia Mazzei reports, Gimenez has tried to get the city off of the Department of Justice list of sanctuary cities since at least last year, citing the issue as a fiscal dispute rather than a political protest about policy. The DoJ never acted on that request, most likely because the Obama administration didn’t mind the sanctuary city movement, as it put at least some pressure on Congress to liberalize overall immigration policy.
Note too that the issue here — and in all other cities — isn’t that the federal government demands that local police departments go out and find illegal immigrants. They just want the local authorities to hold those illegal immigrants they find in the normal course of local law enforcement so that Immigration and Naturalization Services can enforce federal law. Gimenez makes that point in the clip above, but it’s a point that gets lost in the debate over sanctuary cities.
Gimenez told the Herald that Trump’s change in policy reset the calculations. Miami-Dade receives $355 million in federal funds for all sorts of purposes, and the relatively paltry sums involved in the dispute make the fight not worth the risk. “I want to make sure we don’t put in jeopardy the millions of funds we get from the federal government for a $52,000 issue,” Gimenez told the Herald. The mayor acted ahead of the county commission, including the commissioner who first implemented the 2013 quasi-sanctuary policy in protest of the non-reimbursement on detentions, whom Mazzei reports was introducing a measure to repeal it for the same reasons.
In other words, this isn’t necessarily a case of conversion, but it’s still at least an improvement. It’s enough of a win for Trump to claim it:
Miami-Dade Mayor drops sanctuary policy. Right decision. Strong! https://t.co/MtPvaDC4jM
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2017
It’s actually a win-win, as DHS has also assured the county commission that they now have enough capacity to transfer any immigration-detention suspect to their own facilities in 48 hours. The federal government should be picking up its own tab on detainees, and cities should comply with federal immigration law. Perhaps more cities will be making these same calculations and coming to the same conclusions.