Sanctuary Cities Brace for Trump Executive Order

Jan 25, 2017

President Donald Trump signed executive orders Wednesday directed at immigrants and national security. One order targets “sanctuary cities” that offer protections to undocumented residents in the United States.

The new order could withhold federal funding from immigrant-friendly cities New Haven and Hartford, Connecticut, where police don’t detain people based on immigration status, and don’t always refer immigrants under police custody to federal officials.

Eric Cruz Lopez, 21, came to the U.S. from Mexico with his family when he was 7, as an undocumented immigrant. He has since lived in Bridgeport, Connecticut with his family.

He was granted temporary status under the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or DACA.

Now he's part of the advocacy group Connecticut Students for a DREAM, and wants to see Connecticut and sanctuary cities stand up for undocumented immigrants.

“I want cities who are sanctuary cities, who might face some sort of repercussion, to say: we choose our undocumented immigrants,” Lopez said. “Because for both of these cities [New Haven and Hartford], undocumented immigrants make a large portion of the population -- in almost every business, every field, working next to everybody.”

Lopez is wary that he and his family could be at risk for deportation.

Several mayors around the country have stood by their cities' immigrant-friendly policies following Trump's executive order.

Northampton, Massachusetts Mayor David Narkewicz said it is a misrepresentation by President Trump that sanctuary cities are harboring illegal immigrants.

"Obviously, if an agency with jurisdiction over this came into our city, we would not block that in any way," Narkewicz said. "What we're saying is our local officers will not be carrying out federal immigration enforcement, which is not even in our authority."

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin issued a statement Wednesday evening defending Hartford's sanctuary city status:

It’s still very unclear what the Trump administration intends to do, or what the executive order signed today actually means, but nothing in our city ordinances is inconsistent with federal law. The City of Hartford never has and never will shield violent criminals from justice, regardless of immigration status. But we also don’t – and won’t – arrest or detain people simply on the basis of their immigration status, or ask victims or witnesses of crime about their immigration status, or deny services like our library system to anyone who lives peacefully as a member of our community. To do otherwise would not only be at odds with our values as a city, but also at odds with public safety and common sense. We won’t be bullied into playing the role of an immigration enforcement agency actively targeting families who call Hartford home.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the president will have updates to his immigration agenda later in the week. 

At a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said that federal action to deport DREAMers -- immigrants living in the United States under DACA -- would be a “gigantic loss” to Connecticut.

“I’ve met a DREAMer,” Malloy said. “This person was 24 years old, has lived in the country for 23 and a half years, was educated in this country, has a college degree from this country, and is paying taxes in this country.”

The executive orders also enable the construction of a Mexican border wall, call for more border patrol agents, and expand detention space along the southern border of the U.S.