The Trump administration tucked into its 1,284-page budget proposal appendix a new plan to compel cities and counties to assist federal authorities in detaining and deporting unauthorised immigrants.
The budget proposal was released Tuesday and has already garnered bipartisan criticism, with multiple lawmakers labelling it “dead on arrival.”
But several proposed statutory changes nevertheless offer insight into the Trump administration’s frustration with so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions and recent court rulings that stymied an executive order on the matter.
The ongoing debate over sanctuary cities has prompted confusion among jurisdictions that don’t define themselves by the term, but still employ policies that limit their cooperation with federal immigration agents.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions alleviated some of those cities’ concerns Monday, when he released a memo clarifying that Trump’s executive order on sanctuary cities pertained only to compliance with a federal law regulating communication between government entities on people’s immigration or citizenship statuses. Under the federal statute 8 USC 1373, Sessions wrote, jurisdictions may not obstruct or restrict the exchange of such information.
Yet Trump’s budget proposal undercuts Sessions’ memo by including an amendment to 8 USC 1373 that dramatically expands the amount of information covered under the statute.
Instead of exchanging only immigration and citizenship statuses, localities would also be required to share information on immigrants’ removability, inmates’ scheduled release dates and times, home addresses, work addresses, or contact information of suspected unauthorised immigrants.
Beyond that, Trump’s budget also proposes a significant change in federal law that would compel local police departments and jails to honour federal requests to detain suspected unauthorised immigrants for up to 48 hours to allow federal immigration agents to take custody.
Those federal requests, known as detainers, are currently voluntary unless they are accompanied by a court order or warrant. This has caused friction between presidential administrations and localities for years, yet no federal law currently exists to compel such cooperation, and federal courts have even ruled in the past that honouring detainers can violate inmates Fourth Amendment rights.
Immigration and sanctuary advocates have already voiced their criticism of the items in Trump budget. The left-leaning Center for American Progress has called the proposal “a radical re-definition of immigration law.”
“I am deeply, deeply troubled by this change. It makes me angry,” Philip Wolgrin, the center’s managing director of immigration policy, told USA Today.
“The sneaky Sessions ploy has been brought from the back pages of the budget document into the sunlight, where it is likely to shrivel up and die,” the immigration reform group America’s Voice told Fox Business.
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