The Trump administrationâ€™s failing campaign to bully so-called sanctuary states and cities by denying federal grants to police departments unless they offer unconditional cooperation to U.S. deportation agents is a study in the arrogance of power.
Nowhere did Congress impose such conditions on the public-safety funds it approved to help local law enforcement.
Nowhere is it written that localities are obligated to hand over undocumented immigrants upon completion of their sentences to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials - although in practice even most sanctuary jurisdictions do so in the case of inmates who have been convicted of serious violent crimes.
And in no way is it wise for Washington to compel states and cities to alienate immigrant communities, which is why so many jurisdictions and local law enforcement agencies draw the line at rendering inmates incarcerated for relatively minor crimes to federal agents.
The administrationâ€™s campaign against sanctuary jurisdictions targets federal grants often used by police and other law enforcement agencies to purchase basic equipment, including vehicles. The amounts are often paltry. Chicago, which sued to unlock the funds withheld by the Justice Department, has applied for just $1.5 million in the grants at issue this year; the cityâ€™s annual budget is nearly $10 billion.
By contrast, the stakes are anything but trivial. By treating localities as well as Congress as irrelevant in its deportation crusade, the administration broadcasts its contempt not only for immigrant communities but also for the rule of law.