I know there’s a lot of material to pick from here, but the following two positions are hard to reconcile with a straight face. Since Trump’s and his surrogates’ big mouths have been used against him before in Court, perhaps some court will see this one. On the one hand, the mass deportation program is demanding that local law enforcement help federal immigration officials out. Although (surprise!) the term has no clear meaning, Trump has targeted “sanctuary cities” for federal punishment. The cities, like San Francisco, are fighting back, arguing (apparently with good precedent, though I stress that I don’t know much about this area of the law. For a decent discussion, start here) that it’s unconstitutional to force local law enforcement to do the work of the feds. The entire state of California is joining in. The substantive argument is that local law enforcement needs immigrant communities to be willing to help deal with crime, and that people will be justifiably terrified to come forth if they fear deportation. So local complicity in mass deportation will make local crime-fighting much more difficult. California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom wrote on his Facebook page that “on average, 35.5 fewer crimes are committed per 10,000 people in sanctuary counties, the median household annual income is $4,353 higher, the poverty rate is 2.3% lower, and unemployment is 1.1% lower. Before you take away our funds, I suggest you take a look at the facts, Mr. Attorney General.” The status of all of this is up in the air; San Francisco is reporting that the administration is backing down considerably from its earlier bluster. But the bluster is quite clear: local law enforcement is to be part of the deportation effort.
On the other hand, the Jeff Sessions Justice Department has decided to throw away everything that’s ever been done by the DOJ to deal with police violence in inner cities, trying especially to nullify existing consent decrees in places like Baltimore. Local police, says the Sessions DOJ, should be allowed, even encouraged, to resume racist stop-and-frisk policies and the like. Why? In a memo to DOJ employees, there were several bullet points, including that “the safety and the protection of the public is the paramount duty and concern of law enforcement officers;” and that “local control and local accountability are necessary for effective local policing. It is not the responsibility of the federal government to manage non-federal law enforcement agencies.” There is a further bullet point that says cooperation with the federal government is important, and that local authorities need to comply with DOJ grant conditions and federal law. But the direction of the memo is clearly to say that the feds should butt out of local law enforcement.
Maybe he should copy ICE on that one.