How Some American Mayors Plan to Defy Donald Trump

November 17th 2016

Kyle Jaeger

Mayors from cities around the U.S. have vowed to resist President-elect Donald Trump's plan to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, despite Trump's pledge to strip so-called "sanctuary cities" of federal funding if they don't comply.


Sanctuary city is a broad term that refers to jurisdictions that have passed laws that prohibit or discourage local law enforcement agencies from inquiring into the immigration status of law-abiding residents. They tend to decline to turn over undocumented immigrants suspected of crimes to federal immigration authorities, while non-sanctuary cities will temporarily hold prisoners until officials are able to deport them.

There are approximately 300 jurisdictions in the U.S. that meet this criteria, according to the Center for Immigration Studies, and mayors from many of these cities are speaking out against Trump's proposed immigration enforcement efforts.

Trump said in September that sanctuary cities that decline to cooperate with federal immigration mandates "will not receive taxpayer dollars," but it's unclear how he'd be able to follow through on that pledge. The Supreme Court has ruled that, in order to restrict federal funding to states, "the conditions must be related to the funding's purpose," NBC News reported.

Here's what mayors from 11 "sanctuary cities" are saying about Trump's immigration enforcement plans.

1. Los Angeles, California

los angeles

"We cooperate all the time with federal immigration officials when there are criminals that are in our midst and need to be deported," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told immigration rights groups last week. "With that said, we’re a very welcoming city, where our law enforcement officers and LAPD don’t go around asking people for their papers, nor should they."

2. Chicago, Illinois


"To all those who are, after Tuesday’s election, very nervous and filled with anxiety as we’ve spoken to, you are safe in Chicago, you are secure in Chicago, and you are supported in Chicago," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel reassured residents on Monday. "Chicago will always be a sanctuary city."

3. New York City, New York

new york

"We are not going to sacrifice a half-million people who live amongst us," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said last week. "We will do everything we know how to do to resist that."

4. Seattle, Washington


"These are our neighbors, and we will continue to support our neighbors," Seattle Mayor Ed Murray told a crowd at a city hall meeting on Wednesday. "We can’t allow ourselves to be divided and sorted out. That’s not America."

5. Providence, Rhode Island


"People in the community, they are concerned and they are scared because of what they heard from Donald Trump during the campaign," Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza told CNN on Wednesday. "And for me it's very important to reassure all our residents that, regardless of what they hear at the national level, they are safe here in Providence and we have their back"

6. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


"We respect and live up to the Fourth Amendment, which means you can’t be held against your will without a warrant from the court signed by a judge," Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said last week. "So yeah, we will continue to be a Fourth Amendment city abiding by the Constitution."

7. Washington D.C.


"We are a sanctuary city because we know that our neighborhoods are safer and stronger when no one is afraid to call on our government for help, and when our police can focus on protecting and serving," D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement Monday. "The values, laws, and policies of Washington, D.C. did not change on Election Day. We celebrate our diversity and respect all D.C. residents no matter their immigration status."

8. San Francisco, California

San Francisco

"I know that there are a lot of people who are angry and frustrated and fearful, but our city’s never been about that," San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced at a city hall speech on Tuesday. "We have been, and always have been, a city of refuge, a city of sanctuary, a city of love."

9. Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe

"Well, it goes to the core values of Santa Fe being a welcoming city for longer than 400 years to immigrants from all over the world," Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales told NPR on Wednesday. "And so we have to do everything we can at the city level to make sure that families who are living in fear now are protected and that we don't use any local law enforcement resources to do really what the federal government's job is, and that's to check immigration status."

10. Denver, Colorado


"We are not going to do the job of the federal government," Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said Wednesday. "What we are going to do is make sure we remain an inclusive city."

11. Newark, New Jersey


"Newark already has a policy of protecting undocumented immigrants from deportation by U.S. immigration authorities," Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said in a statement Monday. "Despite the election of Donald Trump, we see no reason to change that policy."