Sanctuary Cities

by Gord Hume

If it took God seven days to create the world, it took Donald Trump eight days to create chaos around that world.

After just eight days in office, a Gallup tracking poll found that Trump has a 51% disapproval rating. It took George Bush 1,205 days to reach that same level of dislike and distrust.

The fall-out from his many Executive orders continues to resonate with cities. You may have heard much about "sanctuary cities" in recent days. These are cities that refuse to hand over undocumented immigrants to federal authorities; in essence, local police are being asked to serve as border patrol officials.

Cites such as New York, San Francisco, Portland and many others have declared themselves to be sanctuary cities. They pledge to provide assistance to those in jeopardy. In Canada, Toronto and several more cities have made or are considering a similar declaration.

The cause-and-effect in the US is threats by Trump and other legislators to withhold or cut federal funding from cities that decline to participate in federal orders from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). There is considerable doubt whether the president has authority to do so. Mayors have been virtually unanimous in their disdain for such a threat, and have consistently refused to be intimidated by Trump.

Some Florida legislators are now proposing state action to penalize Florida cities financially for being a sanctuary city. That would withhold state funding for cities and counties that are deemed to be sanctuary cities. Part of the proposed legislation would allow US citizens who are harmed or become victims of violence by these illegal immigrants to sue city and county officials if they had not fully complied with enforcing federal immigrations laws, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

This puts American Mayors and City Councillors in a unique position. It is a moral quandary for them. Bravely, and to their great credit, most of them are standing up to the threats and bullying.

It is inconceivable to most Canadian municipal officials that such actions could ever take place in Canada, or that cities and towns across the nation could be threatened by other branches of government in such a manner. Yet it is happening across our border with the United States.

The US ban' on immigrants from certain countries is already having a direct impact on cities. Bright university students and grads are re-thinking their choices. Investments in cities by companies are being jeopardized. Travel plans are disrupted for people afraid to leave the US or afraid they can't get clearance, and this is also impacting business. 

At the same time, a trade war with Mexico seems to be developing quickly. The fear is that Canada will somehow get side-swiped in the emerging war. That would cost Canadian towns and cities jobs if NAFTA gets torn up or substantially revised.

Some media sites have already begun a countdown clock to the end of the first term of President Trump.

It is havoc, it is unprecedented and it is scary for a lot of American municipal leaders and citizens right now. Life in America.

Heaven help us all.

Gord Hume


Gord Hume is recognized as one of Canada's leading voices on municipal government and is an articulate and thoughtful commentator on civic government and community issues. He is a very popular public speaker, an advisor to municipal governments, and a respected and provocative author.

Gord was elected to London City Council four times. He has had a distinguished career in Canadian business, managing radio stations and as Publisher of a newspaper. Gord received two “Broadcaster of the Year' awards. He is now President of Hume Communications Inc., a professional independent advisor to municipalities.

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