SF bracing in case Trump cuts federal funds over sanctuary status

Mayor Ed Lee and San Francisco politicians are bracing for what President-elect Donald Trump lists as one of his main priorities: blocking “all federal funding” for sanctuary cities. 

Hundreds of cities around the country have sanctuary policies, which broadly means local officials limit their cooperation with federal immigration authorities to turn over immigrants living in the country without documentation. The scope and degree of those policies vary, and San Francisco has some of the most stringent noncompliance policies in the country.

Should Trump follow through on his stated intention, it could have a major and immediate impact on the city of San Francisco, which receives around $1 billion annually from the federal government, according to city Controller Ben Rosenfield. 
Of that money, $478 million comes directly from the federal government. The balance comes from the federal government via the state of California. The city’s current budget is $9.6 billion. 

City officials are making contingency plans in case that money disappears.

“It’s certainly something the mayor’s office, the city’s lobbyist and our office has started looking at,” Rosenfield said Wednesday, one day after Trump was elected in a surprise victory over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton



With some 70 days to go before Donald Trump takes control of the White House, the President-elect’s senior team is working to choose key leadership roles. While he campaigned on being an outsider, experts say he should include insiders as well. (Nov. 10)

Yet it is far from clear what pulling funding from sanctuary cities would mean in practice. 

A 2015 resolution by the House of Representativescalled for pulling funding from sanctuary cities for three criminal justice grant programs administered by the Department of Justice: the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP), the Community-Oriented Policing Services program (COPS), and the Edward Byrne Memorial JAG (Justice Assistance Grant) program.

Of those three programs, San Francisco appears to receive funding only from JAG — $272,540 in the current fiscal year — said Severin Campbell, director of the city’s Budget and Legislative Analyst’s Office. JAG funds drug treatment programs and technology improvements for police departments, among other things. 

Campbell said it’s possible the city receives additional money from the three Justice Department programs, but that’s not detailed in the budget. 

Saira Hussain, a staff attorney with the Asian Law Caucus, said the details of Trump’s plan will determine the effect on the city. 

“So far, nothing concrete has been put forward,” Hussain said. “Folks are obviously trying to make an assessment and use every tool at our disposal to protect the rights of the immigrant community here in San Francisco.” 

If Trump manages to block “all federal funding,” as described in his 100-day plan, city services across the board will take a tremendous hit. 
The Municipal Transportation Agency has received more than $200 million in federal funds over the last two years, mostly toward building rail and overhead lines for Muni trolley buses and trains. 

Most of the welfare programs provided by the city’s Human Services Agency are paid for in part with federal dollars, including the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, known as TANF, but also food stamps. The new Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing receives $30 million annually for supportive housing and other services, among other federal funds.

The district attorney’s office also receives approximately $1.68 million a year in federal funding, which is routed through the state. That doesn’t include one-time grants, such as a $1 million Department of Justice grant in 2013 to help reduce neighborhood crime in the eastern Bayview.

By far, the biggest hit to the city would be the elimination of reimbursements it receives for Medicaid, which provides free or low-cost health coverage to low-income people.

Trent Rhorer, director of the Human Services Agency, said Trump could not single-handedly take away funding for most of those programs — that would require acts of Congress. However, with a Republican-controlled House and Senate, such actions are possible. 

“My immediate reaction was not the hammer dropping right away,” Rhorer said. But the effects over time could be “draconian.”

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