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January

2017

Mayor Mike Signer to declare Charlottesville “Capital of the Resistance”

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (NEWSPLEX) — Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer intends to declare Charlottesville a “Capital of the Resistance” in the wake of President Donald Trump’s first week in office.

The formal announcement will be made Tuesday during a press conference at City Hall.

Signer confirmed in a Facebook event that he will be joined by Khizr Khan, Faith, Business, and Community Leaders.

According to the event, “Signer and the other speakers will issue a call to action for anyone concerned about the fear, division, and uncertainty that have resulted from President Trump’s draconian executive orders.”

Visit Source for more: Mayor Mike Signer to declare Charlottesville “Capital of the Resistance”

Trump-Proof Seattle! Tax The Rich: Action Meeting – Transit Riders Union

WA-regressive-tax

Now is the time to act, right here in Seattle. With the federal government in irresponsible and dangerous hands it’s up to us to build community and resilience and power at a local and state level. On January 28th the Transit Riders Union is hosting an Action Meeting where you can learn about an ambitious and exciting campaign that is in the works right now, and sign up to get involved. Meet in the large Hall 1 of the Labor Temple, 2800 1st Ave, at 2:00 PM.Washington State has the #1 most regressive tax system in the nation. That means the poorest people pay the highest percentage of their income in state and local taxes – basically, Seattle and Washington State are tax havens for the wealthy. As a result we can’t adequately fund basic prerequisites of civilization, like education for our children.

And now, we’re all waiting to see what Trump’s administration is going to attack first. The Affordable Care Act is already on the chopping block. What’s next? Workers and their unions? Immigants? Social security and medicare? Foodstamps?

It’s time to act. We can help defend Seattle against Trump, set an example for other cities, AND pave the way to overhauling our state’s regressive tax system. If wealthy people with incomes over $200K contributed more fairly to our community, Seattle could raise hundreds of millions of dollars each year for affordable housing, transit, education, and green jobs. This will be a massive grassroots effort. We need you!

Source: Trump-Proof Seattle! Tax The Rich: Action Meeting – Transit Riders Union

Is California Really Going to Secede?

The state conservatives love to hate is beginning to reciprocate the feeling. Photo: YesCalifornia

Like the talk of secession in conservative southern states after Barack Obama became president, the idea of a separate California Republic builds on long-standing separatist feelings amplified by a momentous national election. Since Donald Trump became president while securing less than a third of the vote in California, the Yes California campaign — a.k.a. Calexit — has gotten a lot of attention and perhaps even some momentum in getting an initial measure placed on the 2018 general election ballot. An estimated 7,000 volunteers have begun amassing the 585,407 signatures necessary to place a constitutional amendment on the 2018 ballot deleting the state’s adherence to the United States and authorizing a 2019 referendum on independence.

More at the

Source: Is California Really Going to Secede?

If every U.S. state had the same population, what would the map of America look like.

Every state has one governor and two senators, but, in almost every other way, each state’s human geography is different, often wildly so. New Jersey has 15 times more people than Wyoming, despite being one-tenth its size. You can divide the island of Manhattan in two and the top half would be more populous than North Dakota, the bottom half more populous than South Dakota.

Most state borders were drawn centuries ago, long before the country was fully settled, and often the lines were drawn somewhat arbitrarily, to coincide with topography or latitude and longitude lines that today have little to do with population numbers. I wanted to know what the country might look like if we threw out all of the East’s ancient squiggles and the West’s rigid squares, and reconstituted the country as a union of states of equal population. Maybe it’s because I grew up in New Hampshire, one of the nation’s smallest states geographically and population-wise, but I’ve always been intrigued by the idea that we might find a way to even things out.

This is easier said than done. I started with a relatively straightforward approach to evening up the numbers: splitting America into just two states of equal population. Using the 2010 decennial census as my data source, I drew the map below. Each region has approximately 154,374,000 residents and no existing census tract is split in two.

Read more at the article’s source: If every U.S. state had the same population, what would the map of America look like.

How cities can respond as national governments turn rightward | Citiscope

Across the planet, 2016 witnessed a dramatic rise of new, rightward-leaning political movements, challenging existing orders — and raising potentially serious challenges for cities. Now the electoral changes have begun to pose stark dilemmas for urbanists in many world cities.

Perplexed about the shift and its implications, I turned to Bruce Katz, the inaugural Centennial Scholar at the Brookings Institution and the founder of Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program. Katz also authored a book on urban regions and their potentials, a topic I’d long focused on myself — The Metropolitan Revolution: How Cities and Metros are Fixing our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy (Brookings Institution Press, 2013).

The background for my interview with Katz was a clear political fact: In two major elections — Britain’s “Brexit” vote, as well as Donald Trump’s victory in the U. S. presidential election — the voters in the major cities found themselves on the losing side, often by overwhelming margins. In fact, Katz is now working on a new publication, with long-time urban expert Jeremy Nowak, on what cities can and should do to protect their interests in the age of Trump.

Source: How cities can respond as national governments turn rightward | Citiscope

The trend may just be warming up. In lands across the globe, there appears to be a tide of rising right-wing parties ready to take on political establishments. Though they differ widely in their ideological hues, most exhibit a distinctly anti-urban tenor. They include the Alternative for Germany, the National Front in France, the Five Star Movement in Italy and Britain’s UK Independence Party.

Voter discontent isn’t limited to Europe. A May 2016 presidential election in the Philippines was won by Rodrigo Duterte, an authoritarian populist who promised the execution of thousands of drug dealers — a murderous pledge that is not only being fulfilled but also catching many innocents in its crossfire.

In Brazil, historically a Latin American leader in taking steps to bring millions out of poverty, there’s now an ultra-conservative, all-male national cabinet that’s moved to freeze public expenditures for 20 years. Leadership in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo both veered rightward in 2016 municipal elections. In Rio, retiring Mayor Eduardo Paes, a centrist who served as president of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, was replaced by Marcelo Crivella, a conservative senator who is affiliated with an influential megachurch. Overall, the Worker’s Party of the impeached former president Dilma Rousseff lost 60 percent of the contests for control of Brazil’s municipalities.

[Read: Citiscope’s exit interview with São Paulo’s Fernando Haddad]

While national situations differ, two themes seem to underlie many of the new political movements. One is resentment on the part of working-class and rural voters who believe their interests have been neglected, even as urban elites have prospered over recent decades. A second is hostility toward immigrants, especially Muslims — an issue centrist parties have addressed only reluctantly, yet clearly an echo of fierce enmity toward Jews in the Europe of the 1930s.

Reflective of the radical shift, there’s now a distinct possibility that the European Union itself could be in peril if its defenders are defeated in major French and German elections this year.

These trends emerge, ironically, at the very moment that voices such as that of American scholar Benjamin Barber are rising in favor of a world “Parliament of Mayors” that could elevate local powers and in many respects bypass nation-state governments entirely.

The resentments of voters vary by world region. In the United States, for example, the severest economic loss and voter revolt has come in rural areas and small towns and cities with stagnant or very slowly growing economies, including many reliant on a single industry. Meanwhile, large U. S. cities and metropolitan regions have tended to fare much better. In Europe, by contrast, the resentment appears rooted more in emerging fears from a surge in terrorism.

Responses will vary

Katz sees cities as powerful antidotes to the winds of globalization — although the responses from them will differ. In Great Britain, a nation with very few elected mayors, most authority is centralized. That will make it harder for local governments to respond quickly to their own challenges, as opposed to the United States, where local rule — and citizen power — is far greater.

For example, local voters in the U. S. approved $200 billion for local transportation projects on the same day Trump’s Republican Party swept to victory on the national and state levels. And if federal taxes are cut under Republican rule, local taxes will almost surely be proposed — to pay for schools, transit, construction and other pressing needs.

Another major U. S. asset, Katz insists, is on the immigration front — the country’s history “as a more integrated nation” puts it in a stronger position than Europe, where “assimilation is an almost existential challenge.” Plus, he adds, the United States “is used to minorities becoming majorities.” For example, Irish Catholics, once scorned by entrenched Protestant majorities in New England, eventually saw one of their own elected president in John F. Kennedy.

Katz suggests the time is ripe across the world “to invent the 21st-century city.” City agencies are often organized in Balkanized silos, at a time when problem-solving requires multidisciplinary solutions to tackle problems such as housing, transport and land use together.  “Economies are so advanced — but governments are still narrowly drawn,” he notes. “The compelling need is for cities to reinvent their governance.”

It’s particularly important, Katz suggests, that the political and economic institutions within metropolitan areas coordinate their efforts to develop advanced economies that can thrive in a competitive global environment.

Katz cites models such as Copenhagen, which pledges to be the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2025. Copenhagen is innovating in clean, renewable energy at the metropolitan and neighborhood scale, and building a pattern of mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhoods where biking and transit are the easiest ways to get around. Meanwhile, the city is building an educated workforce with deep technical knowledge. The Copenhagen City and Port Corporation — publicly owned but privately managed — is using the value of publicly owned land to spur the regeneration of large districts, like one known as North Harbour, while providing revenues to finance new transit infrastructure for the entire city.

[Read: Three lessons for cities in Denmark’s clean-energy revolution]

As a U. S. model, Katz notes the Denver region, where cooperation between the city and its suburbs has raised capital for infrastructure, arts and culture, and downtown revitalization. In 2004, the region voted for an innovative regional transportation plan, FasTracks, financed in large part by a multijurisdictional ballot referendum approving one of the biggest sales-tax increases the region had ever seen. Katz says healthy regions like Denver develop deep partnerships — among government, business, philanthropy, media and higher education — that will help them to form strong strategies to remain nationally and globally competitive.

Room for action

Major urban regions worldwide need to keep learning from each others’ successes, Katz suggests. In the United States, mayors can act creatively, reaching out for alliances with business, labor and nonprofit organizations. But their authority is often limited, with power over essential services like water, housing, seaports and airports controlled by separate public authorities. The pattern poses obstacles in bringing together the varied resources — capital, land, infrastructure and human resource development — to develop coordinated strategies that will lead to more efficient and responsive services and effective growth.

In many countries outside the United States, city governments may be strong but operate more “solo” — exercising their official powers but without a history or culture of engaging the broad range of non-governmental players that could enrich their alliances and outreach.

In Europe, the refugee crisis is prompting the growth of new civic institutions and corporate strategies that innovate on integration strategies. In Hamburg, for example, a new nonprofit called Hanseatic Help set up the largest clothing storage and redistribution system in the city, and developed an app that brings together volunteers and refugees. In Stockholm, LinkedIn has created a platform called Welcome Talent to give every refugee a profile that identifies his or her workplace qualifications and accelerates attachment to the labor market.

Katz’s bottom line: In an increasingly contentious political world, cities should seek ways to expand their scope and effectiveness on every front, from business development to clean streets, and climate protection to advanced educational opportunities. And to look globally, past the ideologically preoccupied national governments, for new models and approaches.

Katz sees the rise of a “New Localism” where “cities become the vanguard of problem solving and social progress in the world, fueled by new norms of growth, governance and finance, and powerful public, private and civic networks.”

Source: How cities can respond as national governments turn rightward | Citiscope

 

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After Brexit and Trump: don’t demonise; localise! – The Ecologist

Both Trump and Brexit can be explained by the failure of mainstream political elites to address the pain inflicted on ordinary citizens in the neoliberal era, write Helena Norberg-Hodge & Rupert Read. In the US and the UK, working class voters rightly rejected the corporate globalisation that has created so much poverty and insecurity. But the real solutions lie not in hatred, but relocalisation.

Localisation means reducing the scale of economic activity – and bringing the economy home. That doesn’t mean retreating into isolationism. Nor does it mean an end to trade, even international trade. But it does mean a fundamental change of emphasis.

The election of Donald Trump was a rude awakening from which many people in the US have still not recovered.

Their shock is similar to that felt by UK progressives, Greens, and those on the Left following the Brexit referendum.

Continue reading at the original location: After Brexit and Trump: don’t demonise; localise! – The Ecologist

In both cases, the visceral reaction was heightened by the barely-disguised racist and xenophobic messaging underpinning these campaigns.

Before these sentiments grow even more extreme, it’s vital that we understand their root cause. If we simply react in horror and outrage, if we only protest and denounce, then we fail to grasp the deeper ramifications of their votes.

For the defeat of both the Clinton campaign in the US and the Remain campaign in the UK can be explained by their inability to address the pain endured by ordinary citizens in the era of globalisation.

By failing to focus on the reckless profiteers driving the global economy, they allowed their opponents to offer a less truthful and more hateful explanation for voters’ social and economic distress.

In order to move forward, we need to give those who voted for Trump and Brexit something better to believe in. And we can. Because in both countries, voters emphatically rejected the system that has inflicted so much social and economic insecurity: pro-corporate globalisation. And that is the silver lining to the dark storm clouds we see.

Late lessons from early warnings

Before the Brexit vote, we warned that the gigantist, pro-growth rhetoric of most of the Remain side was utterly alienating to many small-c conservatives and to people who have been harmed by the uncontrolled movement of capital, goods, services and workers.

And we pointed out that neither side was painting a big picture that corresponded to the brutal reality of successive trade treaties, including those within the EU itself, that have put ordinary people in permanent competition with each other. It was against that system – and against the elites that alone have benefitted from it – that many millions in Britain voted, in some desperation and anger, to Leave.

Much the same applies to the US election. While many voters saw Hillary Clinton as capable, they did not see her as an alternative to the neoliberal status quo. Bernie Sanders would probably have beaten Trump, precisely because he firmly and explicitly rejected the pro-free-trade, pro-corporate ‘consensus’.

We need to learn from the Brexit and Trump votes that the far-Right thrives because it has a populist answer to the vicious impacts of globalisation. Voters want fundamental change, and the ‘reforms’ sought by mainstream progressives, Greens and those on the Left – like job training programs for displaced workers or voluntary safety standards for Third World factories – are simply inadequate.

Instead, we need to offer an alternative to globalisation itself.

How globalisation drives racial tension

Globalisation and market-driven centralisation actually drive the increase in xenophobia and racism that we have seen, by forcing people from every part of the world to compete against each other in a vicious economic race that only a handful can win.

One of the authors (Helena Norberg-Hodge) was a first-hand witness to this process in Ladakh, a region of India in the western Himalayas known as ‘Little Tibet’. For more than 600 years, Ladakhi Buddhists and Muslims lived side by side with no recorded instance of group conflict. They helped one another at harvest time, attended one another’s religious festivals, and sometimes intermarried.

But over a period of about 15 years starting in 1975, when the region was first opened to the global economy, tensions between Buddhists and Muslims escalated rapidly: by 1989 they were bombing each other’s homes. One mild-mannered Buddhist grandmother, who a decade earlier had been drinking tea and laughing with her Muslim neighbor, told me, “We have to kill all the Muslims or they will finish us off.”

How did relations between these two ethnic groups change so quickly and completely? The transformation is unfathomable, unless one understands the complex interrelated effects of globalisation on individuals and communities worldwide. These included

  • the undermining of Ladakh’s local economy through the import of ‘cheap’ but heavily subsidized products;
  • the centripetal pull of urban areas where jobs and political power became centralised;
  • the consequent breakdown of village-scale cultural and governance structures;
  • and the creation of unemployment and real poverty (problems that were preciously unknown in Ladakh).


In combination, these factors led to rising hostility against ‘the other’. (Norberg-Hodge has described these connections more fully in her book Ancient Futures, and in the documentary film The Economics of Happiness.)

Ladakh’s experience is not unique: all over the Global South, cultures have been impacted in a similar manner beginning with the era of conquest and colonialism; so have the UK and Europe starting with the Enclosures. But in recent decades, during the modern era of globalisation, the process has accelerated dramatically.

Destroying jobs, reducing wages, undermining conditions of work

By allowing corporations to move unfettered around the globe, ‘free trade’ treaties put workers throughout the industrialised world in competition with those who will accept a fraction of a dollar per hour.

For example, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) resulted in a net loss of 680,000 American jobs, and the Permanent Normal Trade Relations deal with China led to a net loss of another 2.7 million jobs. And it’s not only the disappearance of jobs that leads to impoverishment, but the threat that jobs can be easily taken elsewhere if workers don’t accept lower wages or fewer benefits.

At the same time, the infiltration of big business throughout the global South – most often with the support of national governments and backed by international financial institutions – has eliminated many of the livelihoods that local economies in those countries once provided.

With locally-adapted ways of life systematically undermined by economic policies geared towards the big and the global, millions of desperate people in the South find themselves with just two options: to accept minimal wages and appalling working conditions in industrial metropolises, or to migrate.

It is estimated that, as a direct result of heavily subsidized corn flooding the Mexican market under NAFTA, 2.4 million small farmers were displaced, and subsequently funneled into crowded urban centers or across the border to the US. So the loss of jobs in the North and the migrant crisis in the South are two sides of the same coin. But people have been steered away from looking at the flawed rules of the global economy that are behind both problems.

Although philosophically opposed to government regulation, the Right is now exploiting a situation – the cultural, economic, and psychological insecurity of vast swaths of the population – that is a product of the systematic deregulation of big business. Rather than allowing them to pull this sleight of hand, Left and Green voices must present a cogent critique of globalisation, and a coherent alternative.

We must show that it is not real progress to force every culture to commodify their commons, to subject every policy decision to the ‘discipline’ of monopolistic markets, to transform citizens into mindless consumers, and to lengthen supply-lines endlessly. The world has become dominated by a neoliberal ideology that makes all of this seem natural, desirable, unavoidable. It is none of those things.

In fact, voters are telling us that the age of David Cameron, Hillary Clinton and Francois Hollande is already over. The question now is: will it be succeeded by the age of Farage, Trump and le Pen. Or will we instead offer a viable green set of alternatives to globalization. If it is to be the latter, then our best option is localisation.

The solution: going local

Essentially, localisation means reducing the scale of economic activity – it’s about bringing the economy home. That doesn’t mean pulling up the drawbridges and retreating into isolationism. Nor does it mean an end to trade, even international trade.

But it does mean a fundamental change of emphasis: away from monoculture for export towards diversification for local needs. In a time of human-induced climate chaos and dwindling energy supplies, we need to reject out of hand the absurdities of the global marketplace, in which countries across the world routinely import and export identical products in almost identical quantities. The subsidies and other supports that currently make such practices ‘efficient’ and ‘profitable’ need to be reversed.

By reducing the scale of the economy, the environmental impacts of economic activity shrink as well. But the argument for localisation goes beyond the environment. Among other things, localisation allows us to live more ethically as citizens and consumers.

In the global economy, it’s as though our arms have grown so long that we can no longer see what our hands are doing. By contrast, when the economy operates on a smaller scale, everything is necessarily more transparent. We can see if the apples we are buying from the neighbouring farm are being sprayed with pesticides; we can see if workers’ rights are being abused.

We can already catch glimpses of localisation in action. Across the world, literally millions of initiatives are springing up-often in isolation one from another, but sharing the same underlying principles. The most important of these initiatives relate to food – which is important since food is the only thing humans produce that we all require every day.

From farmers’ markets to community supported agriculture, from ‘edible schoolyards’ to permaculture, a local food movement is sweeping the planet. But there are also projects underway to localise business, energy sources, banking and finance, and other needs.

Seeing the big picture

The UK decision to leave the EU is a risk, in that it might lead this country to seek to race even faster to the bottom, in particular by abandoning hard-won environmental protections. But it is also a great opportunity. We could choose, now, to disentangle ourselves from a fragile, resource-intensive and utterly-destructive global economy, in favour of re-embedding ourselves back into the Earth and our localities.

Similarly, President Trump is likely to serve up an incoherent mélange of protectionism on the one hand and deregulatory, pro-corporate policies on the other. Localisation, by contrast, represents a coherent and comprehensive shift in direction – it protects not only our countries and workforces but also the Earth, future generations, and the poor.

Relocalising would radically reign in the invisible Right of corporate domination, and would reverse the rising tide of the more visible Far-Right. But this can only happen if we see the bigger picture. It isn’t enough to defend immigrants against bad treatment if we fail to act against the system that drives the breakdown of community and of civility, that pulls people out of their own cultures and economies.

If we do not relocalise – if we continue to throw people into ruthless competition with each other while making local communities unviable – then we are watering the seeds of further anti-immigrant sentiment, and worse. But if we embrace localisation, then we sow new seeds of cooperation and international understanding.

Relocalising won’t be easy. The forces that promote globalisation control most of the avenues of information to which people have access, and their propaganda saturates the media, including the Internet.

It is going to take a linking of hands internationally – among labour and environmental groups, small businesses and family farmers, educators and students, religious groups and peace activists – to put new political leaders in place who do not ratify treaties that devastate our present and our future.

Instead, they need to collaborate to create treaties that protect the local, everywhere. And it will take determined effort in localities everywhere to restore local food and energy systems, and to rebuild local knowledge and local democracy.

Perhaps you are already part of that determined effort. If you are not, we hope you decide to join us in this vital work. 


 Helena Norberg-Hodge is author of ‘Ancient Futures’ and a recipient of the Right Livelihood Award.

Rupert Read is co-author of The post-growth project‘.

Source: After Brexit and Trump: don’t demonise; localise! – The Ecologist

Why Boston’s Mayor Alone Can’t Save the City From Flooding – Next City

On Dec. 8, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh released one of the most comprehensive climate adaptation plans in the country. The 400-page report outlines an array of options for “climate-proofing” the city, including the creation of a decentralized energy grid, the construction of a barrier in Boston Harbor to protect against storm surges, expanded flood insurance coverage and scores of other measures. Better yet, the city promises to be completely carbon neutral by 2050.

Sound good, Bostonians? Well, there is a catch: None of this will happen without voters’ support. While Mayor Walsh’s desire to climate-proof the city is laudable, neither he — nor any other politician in the state — has the political capital to implement the massive infrastructure upgrades outlined in the Climate Ready Boston report without the explicit and sustained support of Bostonians themselves.

Anticipatory policymaking is political kryptonite. Voters reward politicians for projects that procure immediate benefits, not long-term and potentially intrusive planning projects that take years to produce clearly observable outputs.

Continue reading at the source here: Why Boston’s Mayor Alone Can’t Save the City From Flooding – Next City

A recent study in Ocean & Coastal Management on climate change and adaptive decision making found that most local officials need to observe physical damage to their district before they are willing to act preventatively. New York has been touted a national leader in adaptation planning. However, its efforts did not begin in earnest until Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the city in 2012, killing more than 50 residents and costing more than $30 billion in damage.

In Boston, unabated climate change could result in floodwaters reaching as far inland as Quincy Market. Parts of East Boston, South Boston and Charlestown are already at risk of significant flooding due to storm surges and, by 2050, Boston’s summers may be as hot as those in Washington, D.C., increasing the risk of catastrophic heat waves. These trends will worsen if — or more likely, when — President-elect Trump puts a climate denier in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Adaptation won’t be easy. It will cost billions of dollars. Retrofitting existing structures to withstand climate-induced hazards will be incredibly intrusive, particularly in a colonial-era city with an outdated transportation system. Many of the projects outlined in Climate Ready Boston will take decades to fully implement. In fact, it remains unclear whether some of the larger projects, including the coastal flood protection system, are even structurally feasible, let alone politically expedient. Adaptation is thus a fluid process and, in the time it will take to simply evaluate these options, new demands will arise.

But the time for action is now. Excessive delays will only increase the costs associated with these projects and, worse yet, leave many of city residents at risk. Nor should we take the Mayor’s climate concerns for granted: Even the best-laid plans could be dashed by a competitive mayoral election in the fall of 2017. While much work remains, Bostonians should embrace the mayor’s proposal and demand that he makes good on his promise to save our shining “city upon a hill” before it is too late.

Rob DeLeo is an assistant professor and co-coordinator of the public policy program at Bentley University. His recent book Anticipatory Policymaking: When Government Acts to Prevent Problems and Why It Is So Difficult, explores the political and social dimensions of preparedness policy making.

Source: Why Boston’s Mayor Alone Can’t Save the City From Flooding – Next City

The Sanctuary Solution | Jacobin

On Donald Trump’s long list of bête noires, “sanctuary cities” are near the top. And he’s promised to act on his ire.

In a major immigration speech in August, the president-elect vowed to withhold all federal funding from cities and states that don’t actively particulate in deportation campaigns. Securing their compliance is the only way Trump can hope to carry out his campaign plank of “immediately” expelling up to 3 million immigrants — at least short of massively expanding the federal immigration agency, which only has about six thousand employees.

If Trump gets his way, not only will cities have to turn over records that detail their residents’ immigration statuses (such as the municipal IDs that New York started issuing last year, or the IDs San Francisco introduced in 2009), but they could even be required to hold people without warrants or formal charges on the federal government’s behalf — or risk losing critical revenue.

The term “sanctuary city” is rather misleading, conjuring up images of cities actively shielding their residents from deportation, like clergy hiding refugees inside a cathedral. In truth, federal agents go wherever they please. The only difference is that in sanctuary cities, local police concern themselves with local laws and leave enforcement of national laws to the federal government.

Source: The Sanctuary Solution | Jacobin

Sanctuary city or not, undocumented immigrants who have run-ins with the law find themselves with almost no protection. As a matter of course, their fingerprints are sent to the FBI and the immigration police as soon as they’re booked. If federal records show they’re in the country unlawfully, all the feds need to come pick them up is a warrant. (The only exception is New York City, where undocumented immigrants are guaranteed a lawyer to defend them in court.)

At the same time, sanctuary cities still represent one of the strongest bulwarks against Trump’s inhumane immigration proposals. While there are few concrete estimates, a huge share of the country’s undocumented population lives in these cities. And the more local governments that resist Trump’s agenda, the greater the logistical hurdles he’ll face implementing it.

The History of Sanctuaries

“Sanctuary cities” are cloaked in religious language for a reason. To the extent that US municipalities look out for the undocumented, it’s largely because of an activist movement that grew out of churches and synagogues.

In the early 1980s, refugees from El Salvador and Guatemala were crossing the US border in droves, driven from their countries by civil war. The Reagan administration, viewing these conflicts as fronts in the Cold War, funded the countries’ oppressive right-wing governments and refused to grant the refugees asylum status. “If you had a weak claim from the Soviet Union, you would get asylum,” recalled Dan Kesselbrenner, the director of the National Immigration Project, who was litigating cases during that period. “But if you were persecuted within an inch of your life in El Salvador or Guatemala, you would be denied.”

So Quakers and Presbyterians in Tucson took it upon themselves to start smuggling refugees across the border. By the mid-1980s, more than 150 congregations across the country were resettling refugees.

Cities, partly in response to this influx, began revising their own policies. In Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York, many undocumented immigrants wouldn’t even go to the hospital or report crimes to the police for fear of being deported. So the cities drafted laws that provided basic security to those without papers. An executive order issued by New York mayor Ed Koch was representative: it forbid city employees like cops and welfare workers from reporting undocumented people to the feds, unless they were suspected of committing a crime.

In subsequent years, congressional Republicans tried to put the squeeze on sanctuary cities. After several abortive attempts, they finally succeeded in 1996 during negotiations over Bill Clinton’s welfare-reform bill, managing to work in a single sentence stating that cities couldn’t stop their employees from turning in undocumented immigrants. A second law passed that year authorized the federal government to immediately deport any undocumented immigrant who had committed a misdemeanor, like marijuana possession. (Before that, immigrants were only kicked out if they’d been convicted of a crime that involved at least a five-year jail sentence.)

While the Clinton administration was no friend of immigrants, the anti–sanctuary city legislation lay dormant until after 9/11, when the Bush administration seized on it and began training local cops to identify undocumented immigrants. Particularly in Republican-leaning states like Florida and Georgia, anyone who was booked into a county jail could be interrogated about their immigration history. These interviews became the main channel for deportations, says Muzaffar Chishti, an attorney with the Migration Policy Institute.

In 2008, the feds went a step farther: they started requiring law enforcement to send the fingerprints of every person arrested for any offense, anywhere, to the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. Whenever someone “appeared” to be undocumented, Homeland Security could ask the local jail to hold the person for an extra forty-eight hours, excluding weekends — even if there was no warrant, even if their charges had been dismissed — so federal agents would have time to come pick them up.

And pick them up they did. Beginning in 2009, Obama tripled the budget for immigration enforcement, spending more on it than on all other federal law-enforcement agencies combined. With newfound cooperation from local jails, the number of deportations shot up: from 319,000 in 2007 to about 392,000 in 2009. Obama’s deportation machine kept breaking records, topping out at 438,000 in 2013. Well over half of the immigrants removed during his tenure did not have prior criminal records.

But the immigrant rights movement pushed back, both in the streets and in the courts. In 2014, a federal judge ruled that a county in Oregon had violated a woman’s rights by detaining her, at the federal government’s request, without probable cause. In the wake of the decision, hundreds of counties began spurning the federal government’s detention requests, in part to avoid being sued themselves.

They weren’t offering sanctuary, in the literal sense; they just refused to hold people without formal charges, or to give special notifications when the detainees were released. Their message to Homeland Security was essentially, “If you want to pick them up, just get a warrant.”

The Obama administration, faced with rising opposition, backed off the detainer requests and took a different tack, prioritizing the removal of violent criminals.

Trump, on the other hand, seems to be spoiling for a fight. But he can’t slash all federal funding to sanctuary cities without congressional authorization. (He could choose to revoke only Department of Justice funding instead of all federal funding, but this is unlikely given his “law-and-order” stance.)

A bill filed this past summer by Pennsylvania senator Patrick Toomey provides a glimpse of the kind of legislation we might see. The measure — which failed in the Senate but could be revived in some form — would significantly roll back federal funding to sanctuary cities.

Take New York City: federal dollars makes up less than 9 percent of the total budget, but departments like Housing and Preservation and Children’s Services would lose nearly half their funding. That kind of quick drawdown would deal a considerable blow — both to direct beneficiaries of government programs and the local economy.

Trump is betting that in the face of such threats, local officials will fold.

Roadblocks for Trump

But Trump’s desire to steamroll sanctuary cities will come up against a couple potential roadblocks.

The first is judicial. In 1987, the US Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could withhold a small fraction of annual highway funding from states that refused to raise their drinking age to twenty-one. (Twice since then, for helmet laws and lower speed limits, Congress has invoked the same right.)

But in 2012, while upholding parts of the Affordable Care Act, the ultra-conservative Roberts Court ruled that the federal government couldn’t withhold money from states that declined to expand their Medicaid programs.

While it would be more than foolhardy to count on the Supreme Court to rein in Trump, sanctuary cities’ legal challenges will at the very least frustrate Trump’s dream of taking them down in one fell swoop.

And for now, elected officials in sanctuary cities don’t seem to be wavering.

Many have declared, either via a statement from the mayor or a vote by the city council, that they will stick to their current immigration policies even if it means jeopardizing federal cash. At least five additional cities (four of them in Vermont, the fifth in California) have decided to adopt new sanctuary policies for the first time.

And last week, the leaders of thirty-one local governments, including the mayors of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, sent an open letter to Obama, insisting that he take last-minute measures to curb Trump’s deportation plans. Specifically, they asked him to protect the personal information of people in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and to extend eligibility for Temporary Protected Status, which allows migrants to remain in the US if their homelands are declared unsafe by the US attorney general.

Trump’s election has sparked a flurry of action on immigration at the local level. Seattle’s mayor has urged that $250,000 be spent to support undocumented students in the city’s public schools; Los Angeles has started advising its undocumented residents not to fill out any new applications for city programs (lest the records be seized); and Oakland’s city council has called on California’s governor to institute sanctuary policies statewide.

Meanwhile, San Francisco’s city council is considering a proposal to allocate $5 million for lawyers who could represent the undocumented in deportation proceedings, and the city attorney says he’s already preparing to sue if a bill like Toomey’s is passed.

In New York, undocumented immigrants will benefit from a program implemented in 2014 that guarantees legal defense to those without immigration papers — similar to the measure San Francisco is considering. And New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has pledged to destroy the applications for city-issued ID cards if it’s necessary to keep them from the feds (though a Republican group has filed a lawsuit to stop him).

Other laws that aren’t explicitly connected to immigration policy could prove to be a boon for the undocumented as well. Earlier this year, New York City approved a measure directing police to stop arresting people for low-level offenses like public urination or littering, and to issue citations instead. As law professors Daniel Altschuler and Peter Markowitz have argued, such measures limit people’s contact with the carceral state, and thus reduce the chances they’ll be deported.

Staying Trump’s Deportation Hand

With Trump vowing to slash funding to sanctuary cities within his first one hundred days, the showdown could set the tone for anti-Trump resistance over the next four years.

Many urban mayors have little to gain politically from working with Trump — even Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s neoliberal mayor, has rebuffed the president-elect — and refusals to comply at the local and state level will place enormous burdens on Trump’s deportation plans. Standing together, sanctuary cities could marshal significant resources for their legal defense, while at the same time drain Trump’s political capital. Phil Torrey, an attorney with the Harvard Immigration Project, says it’s likely that each uncooperative city’s sanctuary laws would have to be dealt with individually — so the more cities push back, the greater the headaches for Trump.

Activist groups will be absolutely central to this effort.

Indeed, what’s most likely to stay Trump’s deportation hand is the grassroots organizing of the immigrant rights movement and the power of disruptive action. Immigrant rights groups forced President Obama to pull back from a deportation-only immigration policy. In the wake of Trump’s Electoral College victory, thousands streamed into the streets and blocked highways across the country.

Mayors tempted to cave or compromise on sanctuary city status will have to deal with the same specter of mass shutdowns.

Source: The Sanctuary Solution | Jacobin