[March 2017 News] Trump threatens to pull funding from Connecticut sanctuary cities and campuses


By Olivia Foster ’18 & Tori Lubin ’18


President Donald Trump has threatened to defund areas protecting illegal immigrants several times throughout his campaign and as president, most recently in an interview with Bill O’Reilly on Feb. 4. This decree does not directly correlate with the recent immigration ban, however it displays a consistent pattern of strict immigration policy by the Trump administration for both residents and those attempting to enter the country.

According to The Washington Post, President Trump’s new immigration policies would specifically ask the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities, which are areas where municipal funds or resources are not used to enforce federal immigration laws.

There are several towns and campuses in Connecticut that consider themselves to be sanctuaries, including Bridgeport, East Haven, Fairfield County, Hamden, Hartford County, Hartford, Manchester, Meriden, New Haven, New Haven County, New London County, Stamford, Stratford, Tolland County, Wesleyan and Connecticut College.

“I 100-percent support Wesleyan being a sanctuary campus,” Max Wimer ’15, a Wesleyan student said. “It shows that the administration, as well as the student body, stands alongside our friends of refuge and from other countries. Now more than ever, solidarity for targeted groups is crucial.”

Sarah Rakin ’14 attends Connecticut College and signed the initial petition for Connecticut College to be a sanctuary campus. “There are quite a few students at [Connecticut College] who fall under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program who are scared of not being able to finish their education,” Rakin said. “Establishing ourselves as a sanctuary campus allows us to stand in solidarity with those students and assert that they have just as many rights to an education as we do.”

However, not all support the idea of sanctuary cities and campuses. “Defunding sanctuary cities would be a good way to enforce federal law,” Sophie Carozza ’18 said. “Sanctuary cities are a violation of federal law and allow immigrants to take opportunities away from tax-paying, law-abiding citizens. They invite the idea that there are no consequences for violation of a federal law.”  

If Connecticut stands firm against President Trump’s anti-sanctuary city policies, they might be deprived of federal grant money.  According to a 2015 Justice Department inspector general report, Connecticut received $69.3 million in active justice assistance grants and State Criminal Alien Assistance Program grants, all of which could be withheld.

But, if President Trump does decide to defund schools and cities that are sanctuaries, it may be difficult to uphold the new policy. “It would require a lot [from the federal government] to enforce the law,” social studies teacher David Willick said.  “You would have to go against the city [government], the state government […]. It is a weird violation of local autonomy.”

Hartford’s mayor, Luke Bronin, defended his city’s sanctuary status to the CT Mirror, when he said, “We are not violating federal law, but we will not be bullied into violating our Constitution or into violating the spirit of our country and the values of our country.”