Last Monday, Mayor Cranley announced that Cincinnati would be a “sanctuary city” for immigrants and refugees: “This city stands with immigrants,” Cranley said. “This city stands with Muslims. This city stands with Syrian refugees yearning to be free. This city has been for years, and will remain, a sanctuary city.” The City Council then passed a supporting resolution two days later.
Given the fact that President Trump does not shrink from threatening his political opponents, including entire states, many in Cincinnati were left wondering if we should expect any budgetary fallout from the announcement. And we thank Courtis Fuller of WLWT for checking in with the administration on our behalf:
Fuller asked specifically how Trump will respond to Mayor Cranley’s announcement, and if the city will “face economic or other sanctions including, for example, funding for the Brent Spence Bridge, which he said he would fund when he was on the campaign trail.”
Spicer’s answer: “The president is going to do everything he can within the scope of the Executive Order to make sure that cities who don’t comply with it, counties and other institutions that remain Sanctuary Cities, don’t get federal government funding.”
Long story short: Yes. The Trump administration will attempt to punish those who defy the widely contested order. But it might not be so simple. Today, the Cincinnati City Solicitor released a statement explaining how vulnerable we are—if at all—to federal penalty:
“President Trump issued an executive order stating the Executive Branch’s intention to ‘ensure that jurisdictions that fail to comply with applicable Federal law do not receive Federal funds, except as mandated by law.’
Being a Sanctuary City, however, is not a violation of Federal law, nor does being a Sanctuary City mean that City officials or law enforcement will conduct themselves in a manner contrary to federal law. […] Because the City is not in violation of President Trump’s Executive Order on immigration enforcement, there is no basis under law or under the Executive Order itself for withholding federal funding from the City of Cincinnati. The City’s resolution declaring itself a Sanctuary City is the exercise of constitutionally-protected free speech, which the City will defend as it seeks to uphold the fair and just application of the law within its boundaries.”
Seems reasonable. But that might not make much difference.