Recently, House Republicans have placed Secretary Mayorkas in the crosshairs of a concerted impeachment effort. This comes alongside the end of a lengthy legal battle in Texas v. United States over a memo Mayorkas issued in September of 2021, ordering ICE to “exercise discretion” by performing only the highest priority removals. Mayorkas’ new guidelines effectively made it impossible for millions of illegal aliens to be deported.
The Supreme Court ruled against Texas and Louisiana’s claim that the federal government has an obligation to perform removals under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952. Without relief from the judiciary, House Republicans seem all the more invested in laying the groundwork for impeaching Mayorkas. With headlines focused on the theatrics of house hearings and potential impeachments, it’s easy to overlook how removal efforts face significant roadblocks beyond the federal level. Since 2021, a silent threat to federal removal and enforcement efforts has been rebuilding: sanctuary jurisdictions.
As of 2023, there are an estimated 300 sanctuary localities which have explicit policies to obstruct immigration enforcement. Once restrained by a Trump era policy which tied millions in federal grant money to cooperation with immigration enforcement, sanctuary jurisdictions are once again flush for federal cash and show no signs of slowing down.
In a report I co-authored with Jessica Vaughan published by the Center for Immigration Studies, we found that nearly $300 million was awarded to sanctuary jurisdictions in 2021 from just three federal law enforcement related grants: The State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP), The Edward M. Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne-JAG), and The Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).
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