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D.C. and Maryland Officials Threaten Lawsuit on Trump Immigration Policy

Updated on February 2, 2017

Trump Hits Opposition on Immigration Policy

District of Columbia and Maryland government officials are threatening to sue the Trump administration after the president announced last week that he is seeking ways to cut federal funding to cities that do not try to deport illegal immigrants.

Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser previously directed police not to ask the immigration status of persons they confront during their investigations. They also are not supposed to report illegal immigrants to federal immigration officials who might deport them.

Like officials in many sanctuary cities, she said the greater risk is that people who might fall under suspicion because of their immigration status would cease cooperating with police.

President Donald Trump mentioned the District of Columbia as one of the sanctuary cities likely to be targeted for reduced federal funding during a speech at the Department of Homeland Security. He said sanctuary cities cause immeasurable harm to the American people.

Trump told the Homeland Security Department to figure out ways to limit federal funds, except as mandated by law to sanctuary cities.

The District of Columbia receives about 20 percent of its annual budget from the federal government, which includes $2.5 billion in Medicaid funds.

Bowser held a press conference after Trump’s announcement at the Homeland Security Department in which she showed defiance to the president’s immigration policy threat.

Montgomery County and Baltimore do not classify themselves as sanctuary cities but their policies and police enforcement are considered lax against illegal immigration. Local arrest records are transferred to the state, which shares the information with the federal government.

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett said he would take appropriate legal action to oppose an immigration crackdown that threatens the county’s budget. Montgomery County receives about $200 million a year from the federal government.

Meanwhile, D.C. lawyers who defend immigrants' rights could qualify for a portion of the half-million dollars in grants Bowser announced this week.

The grants are being awarded in increments of $150,000 for programs that could include providing legal assistance for family reunification, preparing asylum applications and representing D.C. residents in deportation hearings.

The mayor's office estimates that 25,000 of the D.C.'s 70,000 immigrants are in the United States illegally.

Both nonprofit organizations and private law firms are eligible for the grants. They must submit their applications by Feb. 24. The money is scheduled to be distributed in April.

Bowser's defense of Washington as a sanctuary city is more timid than some other big cities, such as Los Angeles and Chicago. The mayor of Los Angeles is offering $10 million in grants and the mayor of Chicago $1 million for legal assistance to immigrants facing deportation.

About 10.6 percent of Washington's population is Hispanic, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The number could be higher because of unreported illegal immigrants. Most of them live in Wards 1, 4 and 2.

Members of Washington's Hispanic population are expressing concern that Trump is continuing an anti-Latino posture that began when he called illegal Mexican immigrants "rapists and murderers."

Nationwide, only 18 percent of Hispanics voted for Trump for president, a historic low for a Republican candidate. His nominees for a Cabinet lacked any Hispanics in top leadership roles for the first time since 1988.

For more information, contact The Legal Forum ( at email: or phone: 202-479-7240.

Trump Hits Opposition on Immigration Policy

Trump runs into opposition on immigration policy.
Trump runs into opposition on immigration policy.


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