At 1951 Coffee, people whom our new president has labeled dangerous Trojan horses “who are definitely, in many cases, ISIS-aligned” serve coffee like any other baristas. The refugee-centric business embodies Berkeley at its best.
But with his executive order Wednesday to cut federal funding for sanctuary cities, President Donald Trump has fired the first shot in his war against liberal America. He has made his rhetoric into a reality, placing millions of people in danger.
Sanctuary cities such as Berkeley are not required to assist federal agents in enforcing immigration laws. City policy further states that officials cannot share any information Berkeley has obtained about the status of its undocumented residents. Berkeley’s status as a sanctuary city allows undocumented immigrants and refugees to work and live here without constant fear of deportation.
With his vague executive order, Trump aims to defile Berkeley’s unique history. His mandate is misguided and misinformed — not unexpected from his administration — but it imposes a real threat: “Cities that refuse to cooperate with federal authorities will not receive taxpayer dollars.” Berkeley would risk losing $11.5 million in federal funding.
Berkeley could lose money to support homeless shelters, strengthen homes against earthquakes and build senior housing. Displaying a complete lack of empathy, Trump is endangering the human lives attached to these programs to coerce cities to comply with his administration.
Our city is not alone in this fight. Of the nation’s other imperiled sanctuary cities, New York stands to lose $701.6 million, Chicago $526.4 million, Los Angeles $466.2 million and Washington D.C. $20.4 million. An unsurprising pattern has emerged: all happen to be liberal havens. All happen to have overwhelmingly voted against a Trump presidency.
We must not succumb to his bullying. We must stare this unconstitutional abuse of power in the eye as we stand by the undocumented community. The 10th Amendment gives local jurisdictions the right not to enforce federal mandates. But under Trump, reality seems momentarily suspended. The city had better start looking for alternative sources of funding should Trump get away with his unhinged plans.
On the day Trump announced his anti-immigrant executive order, Berkeley Unified School District wasted no time in sending out an email promising to protect “the right of every student to attend public school, regardless of immigration status of the student or of the student’s family members.”
But further action is necessary. City officials should start developing solid frameworks to keep federally funded programs alive. And following in the footsteps of other cities’ police departments, Berkeley Police Department — one of the only local entities with protected funding under Trump’s proposal — should explicitly affirm it will not push anti-immigration law enforcement.
Our future does not look promising. We will have to make sacrifices. But the long-term consequences will be even more severe if we do not resist.
Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.