Federal grants may be withheld for 'sanctuary cities' - Tucson News Now

Federal grants may be withheld for 'sanctuary cities'

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The city of Tucson estimates, in round figures, it gets about $100 million in federal grants annually.

About $80 million goes to housing such as Section 8, rent subsidies and other aid. It's estimated most of the remaining $20 million goes to transportation projects, such as the Tiger grant the city received to build the modern streetcar.

If the U.S. Attorney's Office made good on withholding federal grants for sanctuary cities, would that money be more in the crosshairs?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Under the federal immigration code, an illegal immigrant who commits a serious crime, is a prime candidate for deportation.

If that person is arrested in Tucson, he or she would be held under what is known as an "ICE detainer". They'd be held until the immigration service picked them up to begin the deportation process.

Where the questions and the gray area begins, is if the person is in the country illegally but has committed no other crime.

The person may have lived in the U.S. for decades, has worked and paid taxes and has been a law abiding, contributing person.

Is that same person eligible for an ICE detainer and deportation? It's beginning to look that way under the present Trump Administration.

Tucson says it's not a sanctuary city and has passed no resolutions which would designate it as such. There is also no legal definition of a sanctuary city so it will be difficult for the U.S. Attorney to make the determination.

Many believe it will end up in court.

"I think it's becoming more clear that the President is getting ready to enforce immigration law different than it has been in the past," said immigration attorney Patricia Mejia. 

There has been speculation that the President is preparing for "mass deportations" which will include most of the estimated 11 million undocumented living in the US.

"It's beginning to look that way," Mejia said. "If the government requires cooperation between ICE and local police, a lot more people will be funneled through the deportation process."

She's telling people to have a plan just in case someone gets stopped and or/threatened with deportation.

"Especially if they have children," she said "We don't want those children to appear to be abandoned."

Copyright 2017 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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