Trump’s Last-Minute Play To Defund Sanctuary Cities

Robert Donachie | Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter

President Donald Trump is hosting a roundtable at the White House Tuesday for federal officials, members of Congress and state attorneys general to ramp up pressure on cities that don’t comply with federal immigration laws.

Conservatives in Congress, along with the president and administration officials, spent the entirety of last week lobbying leadership to stop funding sanctuary cities in the upcoming must-pass spending bill. Despite their efforts, Republican leadership is including funding for sanctuary cities in the bill, as The Daily Caller News Foundation previously exclusively reported, dealing a huge blow to both the administration and conservatives.

The president is looking to use Tuesday’s White House meeting to highlight the problems he has with funding these cities and pressure cities to conform with federal immigration laws.

Those attending Tuesday’s meeting include:

  • Vice President Mike Pence
  • White House chief of staff John Kelly
  • Adviser Stephen Miller
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions
  • Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting Director Tom Homan
  • Gene Hamilton, Counselor to the Attorney General
  • GOP Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas
  • GOP Rep. Martha McSally of Arizona
  • GOP Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina
  • GOP Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania
  • GOP Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas
  • Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton
  • Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
  • Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones
  • Other state law enforcement officials

Changes to the text of the spending bill could still happen. House lawmakers need to vote on the bill before they leave work Wednesday to avoid a showdown in the Senate, where one GOP defection could effectively shut down the government. GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky shut down the government in February, filibustering a two-year budget agreement that raised federal spending some $300 billion dollars.

The White House is arguably more serious about immigration policy than any other campaign promise President Donald Trump made in 2016.

Within his first few weeks in office, Trump signed an executive order in January 2017 to strip federal grants from cities that harbor illegal immigrants. A federal judge blocked the president’s move that November, arguing that the administration did not have the legal authority to cut funding that Congress had already appropriated. The battle between the administration and federal courts is still ongoing, but Congress technically the means to end the debate, given that it has the “power of the purse.”

The president said in a speech Monday that ending sanctuary cities is a critical step in stopping the addiction epidemic sweeping the nation. He also said doing so would help curb crime, gang activity and the number of drug dealers on American streets.

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