Written By: Anton Sawyer
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis To Spend Taxpayer Funds To Send Illegal Immigrants To Sanctuary Cities
Between the years I’ve spent working as a fundraiser for the RNC and researching the programs the GOP allocates spending for—some are which I agree with, while others I oppose—I’ve learned one thing. It seems that the only way I can agree with Republican spending as it pertains to immigrants happens when these expenditures are brought about by complete ignorance. That is the subject of the article today: a Republican spending plan that is guaranteed to backfire by helping illegal immigrants by sending them to places that will welcome them. I’m sure that by the end, you’ll see why it’s an allocation I ultimately agree with.
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Not to be outdone by convention, when you look at the specifics of this plan, it has all the hallmarks of blowing up in the faces of the conservative movement. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has decided that the best way to combat the issues with illegal immigration in his state is by opting for what he calls a “tongue-in-cheek approach” by allocating millions of state funds towards the removal/replacement of illegal immigrants out of his state, and into those with sanctuary cities. Though this entire exercise seems to be a contradiction from the get-go, many conservatives are lauding this inventive approach.
So, what exactly are the specifics of this plan?
In December of 2021, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis put forth his “Freedom First Budget.” In it, he asked for $8 million in federal funding to contract with private transportation companies to transfer migrants out of the state. DeSantis' request comes as part of proposed series of legislative reforms that he wants enacted to resist President Joe Biden’s immigration policies and to fight back "against the Biden border crisis," he said. "The governor's proposals for protecting Floridians from the Biden Border Crisis are intended to implement the directives of the Executive Order he signed in September," the governor's spokesperson said. He plans to round up illegal immigrants, put them on various modes of transportation, and send them to "Delaware or Martha's Vineyard or some of these places.” DeSantis claims that if the immigrants were sent to such places, then “[the] border would be secure the next day."
The prevailing thought held by DeSantis and those who support this measure is that by having thousands of illegal immigrants show up at Biden’s doorstep, it will force an immediate “fix” to the problems at the border. While DeSantis has admitted that there is a tongue-in-cheek element to his plan, he has claimed that it would ultimately give him the resolution that both he, and the GOP at large, wants.
That’s correct. The entire crux of this GOP plan is predicated on displacing a bunch of people and putting them in the face of your political opponent in a game of one-upmanship. The result of this action is going to cause that political opponent to completely about-face on their entire program because you “showed them?”
When you look at where he’s wanting to send the immigrants, it seems counterintuitive to the RNC immigration goals overall. He’s wanting to send them to states which house sanctuary cities, thereby almost ensuring that these immigrants will be welcomed with open arms. A prime example is when DeSantis mentioned Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Massachusetts, in and of itself, has six different sanctuary cities.
The GOP has had an incredibly tumultuous relationship with these sanctuary cities over the years. For those of you who have heard the phrase, but aren’t exactly sure what it means, allow me a moment of your time.
First off, you have to keep in mind that one of the foundations of the Republican party is that states know better what their constituents need than the federal government, and therefore, states' rights should supersede those of the federal government … sometimes.
Sanctuary cities are the epitome of this autonomy; they have decided to use local resources to solve local problems. Being in a sanctuary city does NOT mean that if you are an illegal immigrant, you cannot be deported or be held to the same legal standards as everyone else. It does mean that the sanctuary city has limited the extent to which it will volunteer resources in support of federal immigration enforcement agents’ responsibility to enforce federal immigration law. These limits can take many forms: saying no to federal requests (known as “detainers”) to conduct joint patrols, refusing to jail an individual who has posted bond and a judge has said can be released or refusing to gather more information—such as immigration status—than is needed to determine if an individual is eligible to receive services. It’s also important to note that sanctuary cities do not violate federal law.
Federal law does not require compliance with federal requests to prolong detention. It does not impose an affirmative duty to gather information about place of birth or immigration status. It does not require localities to give local resources to assist federal immigration agents in carrying out their federal immigration enforcement responsibilities. So long as a local sanctuary policy does not limit communication or maintenance of information on a person’s immigration or citizenship status, it will not run afoul of federal law. Currently, there are no known policies that restrict the sharing of such information.
Because of how secretive these cities can be as it pertains to allowing ICE in their records vault, along with the GOP need to remove every single human that hasn’t jumped through all the hoops needed to become an American citizen, the Republicans have had to get creative in dealing with these cities.
The most well-known example would be when ex-President Trump stopped all federal funding to these cities beginning in 2017. At the time he stated, “[We will] block funding for sanctuary cities … no more funding. We will end the sanctuary cities that have resulted in so many needless deaths,” Trump said. “Cities that refuse to cooperate with federal authorities will not receive taxpayer dollars, and we will work with Congress to pass legislation to protect those jurisdictions that do assist federal authorities.” The grant program at issue provides around $250 million a year to help fund investigative task forces, improve 911 call systems and crime laboratories, and reduce gang violence in prisons.
The GOP fell in line and kept repeating the lie that sanctuary cities allow for more crime (especially murders) against more average citizens by illegal immigrants than in any other locale. During the Summer of 2021, Republican Missouri Governor Mike Parsons and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt put out a statement against the Biden administration’s handling of the immigration problem that illustrates this misdirection clearly. "President Biden and the Department of Justice have decided to reward states and cities that refuse to cooperate with enforcing constitutional immigration laws that protect our citizens against foreign threats.” At almost every level of the GOP, you can find this sentiment mirrored. The only problem is, when you look at the real-life numbers, their fears simply aren’t true.
A study written by David K. Hausman of the Stanford Department of Political Science made the evidence quite clear: sanctuary policies reduce deportations without increasing crime. Hausman combined ICE deportation data and FBI crime data with data on the implementation dates of sanctuary policies between 2010 and 2015. His efforts found that sanctuary policies reduced deportations of people who were fingerprinted by states or counties by about one-third. Those policies also changed the composition of deportations, reducing deportations of people with no criminal convictions by half—without affecting deportations of people with violent convictions. Sanctuary policies also had no detectable effect on crime rates.
Because the facts are what they are, in 2021, The US Justice Department repealed a policy put in place during Donald Trump's presidency that cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in grants to sanctuary cities that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities. The Office of Justice Programs Maureen Henneberg said that prior grant recipients, including cities, counties, and states that were recipients of the department's popular $250 million annual grant program for local law enforcement, will no longer be required to cooperate with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement as a condition of their funding.
Because the GOP’s echo chamber is set to “impenetrable,” both the DOJ and statisticians were called out as wrong, all while the Republicans tried to come up with more full-proof ideas to fight this non-existing problem of mayhem being caused in every sanctuary city by every illegal immigrant. And this has led us to the current situation with DeSantis spending eight million taxpayer dollars to send the immigrants from Florida to such places where they would be helped by local governments.
There is no way this plan can succeed in the way that the Republican party thinks it will.
Knowing what we’ve learned about sanctuary cities, think about it. If you’ve got 1,000 illegal immigrants on a plane and sent them to Massachusetts, do you think once they arrive, everyone is going to be livid that these people were “dumped on our doorstep” and now they are bogging down the lives of everyone in that community? No, they are sanctuary cities. They would be treated just the same as any homeless person that was completely displaced across state lines. Yet, according to conservatives like Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck, these places are cities that automatically give illegal immigrants a welfare paycheck, free health insurance, and a free place to live upon arrival (in some cases, for life). If you have your entire constituency believing this lie, then why would you want to send them to a place with so much luxury?
With all of this said, if the law getting illegal immigrants to sanctuary cities was written in such a way to where it funded such a thing, I would support it. While working in landscaping as a teen, I made friends who went through the legal process of becoming a US citizen. Because of these friendships, I’ve heard horror stories about trying to become legal in America by going through the proper channels. It’s a nightmare that lasts for years and the entire time you think to yourself that you could be deported any day before you attain your citizenship—for whatever reason can be concocted.
Even when looking at the official government timeline for becoming a naturalized citizen, (between getting a green card and an evaluation to see if your case has “special circumstances” or not), it takes many years. Under the best circumstances where you already have a green card and are ready to go is about two years. However, if you need a green card and don’t have a special need, you are looking at upwards of seven years.
With this knowledge of the minutia when it comes to citizenship, I’m OK with sending a person to a place where they can focus on becoming a citizen instead of constantly looking over their shoulders at the ever-present thought of deportation. This would not only help relieve some of the stress associated with the legal citizenship path, but it would probably lead to a lot more people trying the legal path in the first place—which is exactly what the Republican party is clamoring for.
Unfortunately, the GOP has become so good at misdirection when it comes to where taxpayer money is going, I don’t doubt that the money will be allocated; it will just end up elsewhere. I think that when it is written out in its final form, that between a combination of its verbiage, coupled with behind-the-scenes work, the allocation will get morphed into something that bears no resemblance to what the original purpose was. The money will go to something, somewhere in the state. What makes this great for the GOP is that no matter what happens with the funds, they will win.
If the immigration numbers decline over the next year or two, then the program will be touted by all GOP members as the new standard. If the numbers don’t decline, then you simply point to whoever is the most powerful member of the DNC and place the blame on them somehow. DeSantis is smart in the fact that this entire exercise will ultimately lead to a win-win for his party. But sadly, those winnings will extend to ONLY his party, nobody else.
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