Thursday, March 5, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He threatened to de-fund state and local police.

Recently, a federal court found that Trump could legally withhold federal grants to state and local police. Today, Trump went on Twitter to threaten to de-fund police in so-called "sanctuary cities." These are jurisdictions that don't use local police forces or jails to detain people suspected of federal immigration violations. 

In his tweet, Trump referred to suspected immigration violators as "criminals," but this is wrong on two counts. Most immigration violations in the United States aren't crimes, because most people in that situation are overstaying a legal visa. That can result in deportation, but it is not a criminal offense. And undocumented populations commit far fewer crimes than citizens or permanent residents.

In other words, because places like Virginia or New York City aren't willing to do the job of federal law enforcement, Trump is promising to make it harder for them to do the job of local law enforcement. (No jurisdiction, "sanctuary" or otherwise, refuses to cooperate with federal arrest warrants for noncitizens accused of crimes.)

It's not clear exactly how much taxpayer money Trump is threatening to take away from state and local law enforcement.

Why should I care about this?

  • Police officers aren't supposed to be used as political hostages.