Chicago and Los Angeles are among the cities across the country that are not only refusing to cooperate with federal immigration authorities by offering “sanctuary” to illegal immigrants, they are also dedicating millions of dollars in legal defense funds to assist these immigrants. For example, the Chicago City Council approved a $1.3 million legal defense fund to aid illegal immigrants facing deportation, while Los Angeles city has a fund seven times the size of Chicago’s.
The legal defense funds are apparently being prepared for the incoming Trump administration. Donald Trump has promised to deport more illegal immigrants and also sanction so-called sanctuary cities.
Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, a Chicago alderman, has admitted that he probably has illegal immigrants working for him in his office, According to ABC Chicago television news, he said, “Donald Trump, we are sending you a message, you will not tear apart our families, we will stay together. We will defend and protect our communities.” According to Judicial Watch, a watchdog group based in Washington, the funds for the legal defense fund will be derived from Chicago property tax rebate funds.
The is some apparent dissonance among Democrats about the issue. Alderman Pat Dowell told The Chicago Sun Times that the fund should instead go to majority-black neighborhoods she represents on the South Side of Chicago. “I’d like to see the administration put the same amount of effort into creating a legal representation fund for all of those young black boys and black girls that are racially profiled in this city or are shot by the police unnecessarily or to support programs like CeaseFire to quell some of the violence in our community,” Dowell said.
Dowell added, “When the mayor talks about wanting to keep the immigrant communities safe, secure and supported, those are the same needs that other communities have. … To raise the immigrant communities’ issues to the forefront, I think is something we should do. But, I’d like to see the same attention to some needs we have in our community.”
In New York last month, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) proposed a new “public/private legal defense fund” for illegal immigrants who cannot afford legal counsel. According to The Buffalo News, a funding request will be included in his 2017 state budget proposal.
The League of United Latin American Citizens, an ethnic solidarity group, has condemned Pesident-Elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions to be the next Attorney General. "The nominee’s well-known racist and anti-immigrant views," read a statement by LULAC, "make him extremely unfit to lead the U.S. Department of Justice." The group erroneously claimed that Sessions has been rejected by the Senate’s Judiciary Committee for his supposed "racist statements as a U.S. Attorney. Since then, his racist and anti-immigrant statements have only grown more vociferous." The record shows that Sessions, however, was actually a vigorous proponent of school discrimination, while he also sought out the death penalty for a member of the Ku Klux Klan who had been convicted of murder.
“President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Senator Sessions to be our Attorney General is unacceptable and should be rejected by the United States Senate,” stated LULAC National President Roger C. Rocha, Jr. “Mr. Trump has promised to bring our nation together, but the nomination of Senator Sessions to lead the Department of Justice will exacerbate racial divisions throughout the country and drive the American people further apart.”
Sessions has been on the record for agreeing on improved border security, while he has also condemned the so-called “sanctuary cities” that protect illegal immigrants. He believes that jurisdictions that fail to cooperate with federal authorities on immigration issues should be prosecuted. The Washington Times, among other publications, predicted last month that he will mark "a 180-degree turn from the Obama administration on a host of issues, but nowhere more so than on immigration, where he’s been the Senate’s leading crackdown proponent."
When Sessions takes office, he will have the authority to halt the distribution of federal funds to sanctuary cities. This is due to rulings the Inspector General of the Justice Department made this year, which require that federal law local jurisdictions must cooperate with immigration officers. Sessions provided a list of a handful of the worst offenders. Rosemary Jenks, who heads government relations for NumbersUSA -- a group that lobbies for increased immigration security -- recently said that once Sessions moves to file suit against sanctuary cities, they will fold quickly. For his part, LULAC executive director Brent Wilkes told The Washington Times that under Sessions, the DOJ "would become the dispenser of terror and racial intolerance..."