Breaking news: Trumps misreads the law
Donald Trump's bluster about penalizing "sanctuary cities" such as Chicago by withholding federal funds that have nowt to do with immigration is based on his assertion that such cities violate federal statute 8 U.S.C. § 1373(a).
Except they don't, as Nikolas Bowie, Berger-Howe Legal History Fellow at Harvard Law School, makes clear in a recent post on the excellent new blog, takecare.com.
Nothing about § 1373(a) requires cities to collect information about the immigration status of their residents. Nothing requires them to arrest anyone, detain anyone, or otherwise enforce federal immigration law. All it says is that when a city official has information about the citizenship of a resident, the city can’t stop that official from communicating with federal agents. Even this modest requirement may not be constitutional—but that’s all the statute says it does.
So it’s a little baffling when members of the Trump administration accuse cities of violating this provision when they “block their jails from turning over criminal aliens to Federal authorities for deportation.” If you think “communicate” means “imprison and extradite,” please never talk to me.