WILL CALIFORNIA CUT OFF TAX RECEIPTS TO FEDS IN SANCTUARY CITIES DISPUTE?

[2/18/17]  “California could very well become an organized non-payer. They could recommend non-compliance with the federal tax code,” predicted former California State Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, Jr., recently. Brown suggested such non-compliance is possible were the Trump administration to follow through with threats to cut off federal funds to so-called sanctuary cities in the Golden State.

Several cities in California consider themselves sanctuary cities — municipalities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials attempting to enforce U.S. immigration law.

Trump’s threat to cut off federal funds to these sanctuary cities in California would certainly create havoc for them. Oakland receives in excess of $130 million in various grants from the federal government every year. The money pays for such things as seismic retrofitting to local law enforcement. (One wonders why the state of California cannot pay for its own local law enforcement).

Several cities, including Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose — and counties such as  Alameda County and Santa Clara County — have designated themselves as sanctuary cities. About one-sixth of Santa Clara County’s budget of $6 billion is funded by federal grants of various sorts. Santa Clara County Executive Jeff Smith has vowed to fight any cutoff of funds through legal action.

Exactly how the state of California could stop federal taxes from being sent to the U.S. Treasury is unclear. But left-wing members of the Legislature are exploring ways to bar state tax receipts from flowing to the feds.

Avideh Moussavian, a policy attorney with the National Immigration Law Center in Washington, D.C., argued that it is unclear whether Congress can legally cut off funds to sanctuary cities. “The essential question is, can Congress legislate on this and if so, can it mandate compliance with ICE detainers.”

It would appear that the answer to Moussavian’s query is clear and can be found in Article I, Section 9, of the U.S. Constitution: “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law.” And since Article I, Section 1, of that same Constitution explicitly states that “all legislative powers [the power to make laws] herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States,” the answer is yes, Congress can legally cut off funds to sanctuary cities.

After all, if Oakland uses federal funds to pay for local law enforcement, one would think the Oakland police could contact immigration officials when they know they have an illegal alien occupying one of their jail cells.

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