Sanctuary Cities Must Prepare for Tough Negotiations with the Federal Government

Within a few weeks of Trump’s victory, mayors of big cities throughout America, including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles declared they won’t collaborate with the federal government’s orders to deport peaceful, law-abiding residents and will retain their “sanctuary city” status. Trump threatens that he will deny these cities funding unless they comply with his orders. The amount of money that cities could be denied isn’t entirely clear, but Mother Jones estimates that DC could potentially losing up to 25% of its budget, New York and San Francisco could lose 10% and Los Angeles could lose 2%.

But the relationship between the federal government and cities isn’t one-way. Cities could make it difficult for the Federal government to operate effectively by denying them certain permits, kicking them out of office space and disengaging from collaborations.

Cities that want to remain sanctuary cities need to do public assessments of their own city’s “exposure” to the federal government, and also the federal government’s exposure to their city. What functions, services and funding streams could be taken from cities, and what functions, services and funding streams can cities deny the Federal government? Once these dynamics are understood, cities can work on defensive as well as offensive strategies.

If there is one message cities across the US need to convey to Trump, it’s that they won’t hesitate to leverage their people, technology and assets to create new power paradigms if existing paradigms doesn’t meet their needs. Trump needs to know that cities view his belligerence as an opportunity to organize the next “devolution revolution” and ruin his presidency.

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