Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This


Trump Vows To Pull Federal Funds From 'Sanctuary Cities' Like L.A.

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Stories like these are only possible with your help!
You have the power to keep local news strong for the coming months. Your financial support today keeps our reporters ready to meet the needs of our city. Thank you for investing in your community.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday outlining a plan to cut federal funding for so-called "sanctuary cities" that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities. The action was signed in tandem with another executive order that instructed federal workers to begin construction on the United States’s Great Wall.

Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, told City News Service that today's executive orders on immigration would not only be "extremely costly to taxpayers," but also that they ”represent an affront to human decency, fall in the face of our nation's history and values and bring shame to a man who cannot from this day forward say he fights for justice and liberty for all.''

Legally, the term sanctuary city has no specific definition. Here in L.A., the closest thing we have to any actual sanctuary designation is Special Order 40, a police mandate that dates back to 1979 and essentially prohibits LAPD officers from asking about—or acting on—an individual's immigration status. Both Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck reaffirmed L.A.'s commitment to Special Order 40 in the days after the election.

Trump's order to cut funding from sanctuary cities could cost individual jurisdictions around the nation millions of dollars, but the order will also doubtlessly face legal challenges. (Here's one potential route for fight back in court).

Support for LAist comes from

"Cutting off funds for cities that refuse destructive deportation programs is unconstitutional. See you in court," California State Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León tweeted in response to the executive order this morning.

So how much does L.A. stand to lose if Trump does manage to cut federal funding for the city? Last year, Los Angeles received upwards of $500 million in federal funds to support a wide variety of programs. Altogether, more than 5% of the city’s $8.78 billion annual budget comes from the federal government.

"[T]elling cities they must deny public safety, education and health care services to children and families living within their jurisdiction will not make us more secure, it will mean fewer crimes reported and more families living in fear," California Senator Kamala Harris said in a statement.

Garcetti issued a relatively mild condemnation early Wednesday afternoon, noting the city's commitment to Special Order 40, but also reminding Angelenos that, "We regularly cooperate with immigration authorities — particularly in cases that involve serious crimes — and always comply with constitutional detainer requests."

"What we don’t do," he continued, "is ask local police officers to enforce federal immigration laws — and that’s an official LAPD policy that has been enforced for nearly 40 years. That is for everyone’s good, because trust between police and the people they serve is absolutely essential to effective law enforcement."

He did include a semi-threat at the end, where he reminded Trump just how crucial L.A. is to the nation's economy, saying "Splitting up families and cutting funding to any city — especially Los Angeles, where 40 percent of the nation’s goods enter the U.S. at our port, and more than 80 million passengers traveled through our airport last year — puts the personal safety and economic health of our entire nation at risk. It is not the way forward for the United States."

Garcetti, perhaps in a bid to preserve our federal funding, declined to use the words "sanctuary city" in his response. This stands in contrast to mayors of other major cities, who have doubled down on the term (Rahm Emanuel pledged that Chicago would "stay a sanctuary city"). In the past, Garcetti has told the L.A. Timesthat he avoids using the phrase because it's "ill-defined."