Betsy Hodges: Minneapolis will remain a 'sanctuary city,' despite Trump threats

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Betsy Hodges says Donald Trump doesn't get why Minneapolis is a "sanctuary city." Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges has been battling Donald Trump rhetorically for months now.

As of next year, that fight could get pretty expensive.

As part of his shock-treatment plan for the U.S. federal government during the first 100 days of a Trump administration, the president-elect has effectively declared war on "sanctuary cities." That's the common term for American cities that have decided not to put their cops to use enforcing immigration. 

Minneapolis is one of at least a few dozen major cities where simply lacking the proper documentation to show one's immigration status won't lead to a criminal prosecution. Trump wants to use the federal purse to bully them into backing down.

Trump says on his first day in office, he will "cancel all federal funding" to these cities. It's quite a threat, considering the cities it targets include some of the biggest in the country, including the three largest, New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. 

Here in Minneapolis, federal funding accounted for 3 percent (about $40 million) of the city's 2015 budget, and 2 percent (around $26 million) in this year's.

Hodges isn't cowed by Trump's threat. In a statement published on Saturday, the freshman mayor says the real estate scion doesn't understand the implications of turning the Minneapoils Police Department into the Extended Border Patrol, Upper Midwest Division.

"Witnesses and victims of crimes won't come forward if they think our police officers will question or detain them about their immigration status," Hodges says. "Our ordinance has helped us solve crime and keep communities safer."

Hodges says Trump's vow to yank funds out from under metropolitan budgets is part of his "quest to scapegoat immigrants," and won't work to change the city's policy.

Under the city's ordinance, Minneapolis law enforcement officers are not to "take any law enforcement action" for the sole purpose of finding undocumented immigrants, or ask an individual about his or her immigration status. 

"If Congress follows through on President-elect Trump’s threat to cities, they will have our hardworking officers bear the brunt of their own obstructionism," Hodges says. "The complete failure of President-elect Trump's allies in Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform should not be borne by our local police officers who already have a tough job to do."

She's got some decent company making this sort of statement: The (liberal) mayors of New York City, Chicago, and L.A. have all made similar statements since Trump said those cities' budgets would be on the chopping block. 

Hodges has made clear her feelings known about Trump and his anti-immigrant sentiment, firing back at the firebrand candidate when he said Minnesota was having "tremendous problems" due to its East African refugee population.

Soon, Minneapolis might indeed be having problems -- but only because it's suddenly looking to cut tens of millions of dollars from the city budget.


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