Major American Cities Vow To Protect Undocumented Immigrants Against Trump's Policies

The president-elect said he plans to immediately deport 2 to 3 million people.

After a successful run for president in which he vowed drastic changes to the fabric of American society, people of color and women are bracing themselves for the onslaught of policies that they expect will negatively impact their lives and agency when Donald Trump takes office in January 2017. Among them are the millions of undocumented immigrants whose deportation Trump has made a central theme of his presidential campaign. But major cities are making moves to allay the fears of their immigrant communities by pledging to remain "sanctuary cities," even as the president-elect has plans to cut off their federal funding.

On Monday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel stood alongside activists, business owners and other lawmakers at a press conference and assured undocumented immigrants that they were safe. 

"To all those who are, after Tuesday's election, very nervous and filled with anxiety as we've spoken to, you are safe in Chicago, you are secure in Chicago and you are supported in Chicago," Emanuel said. "Chicago will always be a sanctuary city."

Emanuel joins the chorus of mayors across the country who have promised to maintain their "sanctuary city" status, in which they hold specific policies to shelter undocumented immigrants, including New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and Seattle. However, sanctuary cities have no legal definition and so their policies don't provide full legal security. 

According to the Associated Press, the term "generally refers to jurisdictions that don't cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That can mean, for example, they don't notify immigration officials when an undocumented immigrant is about to be released from custody."

Trump has threatened to withhold millions of dollars in federal funding to sanctuary cities should they refuse to comply with his immigration policy, thought it remains unclear if his administration will follow through. 

In an interview on 60 Minutes that aired Sunday night, Trump said he plans to deport 2 to 3 million undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes, a move that would "create a police state," according to Kevin Appleby, the senior director of international migration policy at the Center for Migration Studies of New York, who spoke to the New York Times. (It's worth noting that the numbers show there are actually an approximate 1.9 million immigrants, including both undocumented and non-citizens residing here legally, with criminal records.)

But some of America's largest, most economically significant cities are defiant. "Minneapolis is being built and strengthened by people from all over the world and I am grateful for their commitment to our city," Mayor Betsy Hodges said on Sunday. "I stand with them today and will continue to take that stand as the president-elect prepares to take office."

Cover image via Ryan Rodrick Beiler / Shutterstock.com