ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL | Just days before President-elect Donald Trump takes the oath of office, the Alameda City Council will likely become the next Bay Area city to become a sanctuary city. A discussion on the matter continues Tuesday night and satisfies a desire by some councilmembers to approve the resolution before Trump takes office on Friday.
Few changes were made to the referral authored by Councilmember Jim Oddie on Dec. 20. The resolution’s impetus is as a bulwark against any actions the Trump administration may take against undocumented immigrants and religious groups, among other racial demographics, Oddie said last month.
Many of the actions within the resolution are already either law or current Alameda policies. Under the resolution, Alameda police officers, in addition, to the city’s treasury and resources will be prohibited from use in the investigation and apprehension of individuals solely accused of violating federal immigration law.
The Alameda Police Department already operates under a policy against cooperation with the U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement for immigration holds. Alameda also no longer maintains its own jail, which eliminates the worry by some opposed to sanctuary city status based on the fear violent undocumented offenders could be released into the community.
In the event, the Trump makes good on campaign rhetoric and directs federal entities to register people on the basis of the religion, race, nationality, gender or sexual orientation, the resolution also directs city departments not to participate.
The amount of federal funding at risk in Alameda, in the event the Trump administration takes punitive action against sanctuary cities, appears minimal. Based on a 2014-15 city audit, Alameda received $2.5 million in federal dollars, including $1.3 million via the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department. In addition, $11.3 million in competitive grants came to the city for three parks and roads projects.
However, there could be some risks involved by Alameda’s move to become a sanctuary city. Sen. Jeff Sessions, likely to be confirmed as attorney general, has stated a clear objection to sanctuary cities. Sessions could serve sanctuary cities with federal lawsuits for violating immigration enforcement. Some legal experts, though, doubt individual cities would be targeted. There are some 300 so-called sanctuary cities in the U.S.
Future federal grants could also be withheld, especially U.S. Justice Department grants for the hiring of new police officers. Alameda does not currently benefits from a COPS grant, according to a city staff report. But withholding funds for public safety is a slippery slope for Republicans, who strongly back law enforcement.