Dem mayors, governors vow to resist Trump deportations

Democratic governors and mayors across the country are signaling they will make their first major stand against President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Celebrating 'Hispanic Heritage Month' in the Age of Trump Let's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy MORE’s administration over his pledge to deport millions of immigrants.

ADVERTISEMENT

In an interview broadcast Sunday on CBS’s "60 Minutes," Trump said he would prioritize deporting or jailing any undocumented immigrants who were members of gangs or had criminal records.

“We have a lot of these people, probably 2 million, it could be even 3 million,” Trump said. “We are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate. But we’re getting them out of our country; they’re here illegally.”

During the campaign, Trump also pledged to block federal dollars from cities that give sanctuary to undocumented immigrants.

But in big cities and states with significant immigrant populations, Democratic officeholders are making clear that they aren’t prepared to go along with the Trump administration’s plans.

“For all those who are, after Tuesday’s election, very nervous, filled with anxiety as we’ve spoken to, you are safe in Chicago, you are secure in Chicago and you are supported in Chicago,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Monday at an event at a children’s hospital.

“Administrations may change, but our values and principles as it relates to inclusion does not.”

Mayors of New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and other major cities also promised to defend their immigrant populations. Governors and state legislative leaders criticized Trump’s comments.

“It is erroneous and profoundly irresponsible to suggest that up to three million undocumented immigrants living in America are dangerous criminals, and threatening to immediately deport them only exacerbates the unprecedented angst and anger currently dividing our American community,” California Senate President pro tempore Kevin de Leon (D) said in a statement.

“State leaders will defend your due process rights and aggressively avail ourselves of any and all tools to prevent an unconscionable over-reach by a Trump administration in California.”

Cities and states have no legal obligation to enforce federal immigration law, and local jurisdictions have long avoided weighing in on federal turf — either to maintain relations with immigrant communities or simply because of budgets already stretched thin.

“Many cities and some states and other municipalities have made the decision that they’re not going to use their jails, their police officers, their city resources to do immigration enforcement,” said Omar Jadwat, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union's Immigrants Rights Project. “And that is completely within their rights.”

Immigration think tanks on both sides of the political spectrum say up to 1.9 million immigrants are living in the United States with criminal records, a figure that includes both documented and undocumented people.

Police departments in Los Angeles, Denver and Boston said they had no plans to begin rounding up immigrants.

“We are not going to engage in law enforcement activities solely based on somebody’s immigration status. We are not going to work in conjunction with Homeland Security on deportation efforts,” Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck told the Los Angeles Times. “That is not our job, nor will I make it our job.”

About a million undocumented immigrants live in the Los Angeles area, nearly one-tenth of the total population nationwide. In a stop at an immigrant rights group’s headquarters on Friday, Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) said his city would stand up to the Trump administration.

“If the first day, as president, we see something that is hostile to our people, hostile to our city, bad for our economy, bad for our security, we will speak up, speak out, act up and act out,” Garcetti said, the Times reported.

Los Angeles operates under a special order first implemented in 1979 that prevents police from turning over suspects in low-level crimes to federal agents for deportation.

Massachusetts state police similarly told the Boston Herald it would not investigate immigration law violations. A Boston police spokesman told the paper it would not change the way the department interacts with immigrant communities.

Denver police drew a similar line: “The Denver Police Department has not participated in [immigration] enforcement efforts in the past and will not be involved in the future,” spokesman Doug Schepman told the local ABC affiliate.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), an immigration hard-liner and a member of Trump’s transition team, said Trump would likely roll back several of President Obama’s executive actions relating to immigration and the chief agency that enforces those laws, Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“President-elect Trump is in a unique position. He has the mandate from the American people to end illegal immigration and secure our borders for once and for all,” Kobach told Fox News. Kobach said Trump’s plans for handling so many undocumented immigrants has not been finalized.

While Trump can act unilaterally through executive actions, broader federal efforts to increase border enforcement are almost certain to be blocked by Democrats in the Senate, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) said.

On Thursday, two days after winning election to the U.S. Senate, California Attorney General Kamala Harris held a press conference with immigrant families promising to stand with local governments if the Trump administration tries to deny federal money to sanctuary cities.

Other cities, and three states, have already taken steps to divorce themselves from federal immigration policy. Connecticut last year passed a law allowing state police to ignore detainer requests from federal immigration authorities, except in cases in which undocumented immigrants are gang members or convicted of serious violent crimes.

“We are a nation of immigrants and, here in Connecticut, we celebrate the value immigrant families bring to our communities and the contributions they make to our economy,” said Meg Green, a spokeswoman for Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy. “While the governor supports an open dialogue about realistic and responsible changes to our federal immigration policy, he does not and will not support deporting our residents to areas where they aren’t going to be safe.”

The Democratic line in the sand is poised to be the first of many instances in which states challenge the Trump administration. It will be a reversal from the last eight years, during which the Obama administration squared off against Republican-led states in court on issues ranging from immigration to environmental regulations.

Rafael Bernal contributed to this report.